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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Huckleberries Online

Idaho: Hay passes spuds as top crop

GRAND VIEW -- The green fields springing out of the arid Bruneau Valley wouldn’t grow without irrigation. The area receives just 7 inches of precipitation a year, about half of Boise’s. But hay is best made when the sun shines. Rain is hay’s enemy. Bone-dry conditions are ideal for Billy and Jim Wolfe, who grow hay on 5,200 acres across southern Idaho, including 1,700 for J.R. Simplot Co.’s massive Grand View feed lot. “We grow it. We buy it. We move it. We stack it,” says Billy Wolfe, 56. “We are a one-stop shop.” Idaho may be famous for its potatoes, still ranked the state’s top crop with $871 million in sales in 2015, the University of Idaho estimates. But hay has quietly grown into a big-time cash crop, bringing in an estimated $485 million in sales in 2015, trailing only potatoes and wheat. And that number understates hay’s role in Idaho agriculture, says Garth Taylor, an agricultural economist at University of Idaho/Zach Kyle, Idaho Statesman. More here.

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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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