BENNETT, Colo. — The snowstorm this week helped erase parts of the drought that has threatened Colorado for years. For farmers on the eastern plains, that moisture could save their crops and their livelihoods.
"It's been bone dry," said Justin Letwon, a fourth-generation farmer at Lewton Farms in Adams County near Bennett. "When it’s dry, you don’t have options. You can’t do anything when it’s dry."
The last couple of years haven’t been easy with the drought Colorado has faced. When Colorado is dry, wheat farmers struggle. When wheat farmers struggle, the rest of us could have less to eat.
"I equate it to a family member having cancer. You watch your crops dry a little every day, and there’s not a thing you can do about it to save them," said Lewton. "When you look at the state of Colorado, we went from a 96 million bushel crop last year in terms of wheat down to a 42 million bushel crop. We cut it in half year over year."
Put into terms we can all relate to, Lewton says there are 72 loaves of bread in a bushel of wheat. So that's a lot of bread.
He’s the vice president of the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, so he knows his stuff.
"When you’re trying to run numbers, and you don’t even have any idea of whether you’ll be able to plant a crop, numbers look pretty ugly when you put a zero in there," said Lewton.
This far east, the snow this week was good for more than sledding and snowmen. It was a lifeline towards saving the crop.
Last week 57% of the state was under extreme drought or worse. That dropped to 39% this week following the storm.
It didn’t wipe away the drought but gave farmers like Lewton Farms something to thank mother nature for.
"It gives us some stability going forward. It gives us some security. It gives us hope that we’re going to be able to have a wheat crop this year," said Lewton. "It’s gotten us heading in the right direction."
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