- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - The drought is killing wheat crops in a northern Idaho county where commissioners have declared a state of emergency.

Some Clearwater County farmers have seen drought conditions eliminate almost two-thirds of this year’s crops, the Lewiston Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1K7v47f ).

“We got a lot of rain the last couple of days,” said Commission Chairman Don Ebert. “But by now it’s too late. The wheat has already turned when it was time for it to be growing. My understanding is the crops are coming in about 60 percent of what they should be.”

The National Weather Service forecasts more rain this week, but not enough to end drought conditions. Experts at Washington State University said rain could mean more damage to wheat sprouts.

Karel Wemhoff, the Farm Services Agency executive director for Lewis and Clearwater counties, said loss estimates are based on what farmers are seeing.

“From what I understand, spring crops are stunted and the winter wheat is short,” Wemhoff said. “Yields will be way down, and probably quality will, too.”

She said recent rains could help some crops.

“Some think the spring crops are benefiting (from the rain),” she said. “Others think it’s too far gone. We just had a county committee meeting this morning and some guys thought the peas and garbanzos could still be helped by the rain, but they thought the winter wheat was past.”

Surrounding counties are considering similar emergency declarations.

After commissioners sign an emergency declaration, it’s forwarded to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Emergency declarations make it easier for growers who have lost crops to get money and other resources.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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