I know that soon we won’t be talking about the rain and this wet spring. Summer will arrive and with it the sun, and we’ll be moving irrigation pipe every day. But last week, sometime after our harvest Friday night the Willamette River decided to top its bank, sending excess water up the slough from which we irrigate and eventually into our field. Yes, its early June and the west side of our field flooded.
The landowners who we rent our land from were kind enough to wait until Market was over to call us with the news. It was surreal to see the calm water, nearly two feet deep in some areas as gauged by the height of our irrigation risers, covering what had been dry land just the night before. Because our beds run east to west, no single crop was under water when we first checked, but a quarter of all of our western beds dipped into the water. Lettuce, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, potatoes, onions, peas, cauliflower, cabbage and the list goes on, all partially under water. The old-timers say they’ve never seen the water this high in June, though it isn’t unusual for these areas to flood during the height of winter. When we checked back in on Sunday the water had risen slightly higher into some of our eastern beds in the lowest ground. It began receding Monday and was nearly gone by Tuesday evening.
Perhaps it was the calmness of the whole event, but there was never a real sense of urgency. We were aware of the possibility of flooding, so we prepared by moving our irrigation pump to higher ground. Then the water came, and then it got higher. But it looked more like a lake than a river or stream, and it almost seemed like it had always been there. Luckily the lowest ground, that was most covered by water, didn’t have any crops planted in it. Last year this ground was planted in our neighbor’s spring crops.
So, now the water has fully receded but we continue to wait for the rain to subside long enough for the ground to dry out. By the end of this weekend we should have a better idea about how much damage our plants have actually sustained. Looking over the field last night, everything seems to be rebounding. Hopefully this is the case and we won’t see any more flooding anytime soon.