Thousands of acres of corn that are supposed to be "knee high by the Fourth of July" will most likely be dead by then.
"You know there are man hours in there, and there is care that's been applied to the field, just like fertilizer has and it is difficult to watch it burn up," says David Eckhardt, a fourth generation Weld County farmer.
Eckhardt planted approximately 1,500 acres of corn this spring. About two weeks ago, farmers in Weld County stopped receiving surface irrigation water from rivers because of the drought conditions.
Eckhardt was forced to make the decision to use the limited water he has on some of his fields while letting the corn in others wither and die. He is walking away from approximately one-third of his crop. Nearly 500 acres of corn now sit baking in the sun.
Because of a 2006 decision by the Colorado Water Court, farmers in Weld County are severely limited as to how much groundwater they can pump for irrigation.
Most were able to pump groundwater for a few days. The reason for the limitations is to protect the water levels in the aquifer and to protect the water rights of residents and farmers downstream.
Farmers in Weld County argue the water levels in the aquifer are so high that many residents are forced to drain and pump water from the basements of their homes.
"It is difficult when you come out and look day after day and see the condition of the field and knowing that there is a solution," Eckhardt said.
Farmers, along with the support of the Weld County Commissioners, formally requested Governor John Hickenlooper to order the pumps be turned on for one month to get the farmers through this year's emergency drought situation.
During that one month time period the water being pumped would be monitored to limit the impact on the aquifer.
In a statement released to 9News, a spokesperson for Governor Hickenlooper said, "The Governor has explored every angle of allowing wells to pump more than their legally allocated amounts, and the Attorney General has twice said that's not possible."
Eckhardt says the loss of one third of his corn crop will hurt his family financially, but the impact will also be felt throughout the community.
Other corn farmers in Weld County say they too are being forced to decide which fields to water and which one to let crops die in.
"An agriculture dollar turns over seven times," Eckhardt said. "It is dying at one here."
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