Field of Gold

A Risk-Taker’s Crop

By Lorie Palmer

After Brent Uhlorn’s mom, Mary, told me where the golden field was located, I took a drive last August from Grangeville to see for myself. It was just as beautiful as she had described.

I’m certainly not the only one who’s made the jaunt off U.S. Highway 95 and onto Crossing Road to enjoy the spectacular view. People from throughout Idaho County and beyond have been stopping by the last couple of summers, taking aim, and posting their photos on Facebook.

A sunflower crop is unusual in this part of the state, but it wasn’t the first farming risk the family took. About eight years ago, they planted fourteen hundred acres of grapes on their land on Pierce Road outside Cottonwood.

During the 1970s, when University of Idaho researchers evaluated the feasibility of commercial grape production in Idaho, they determined that certain microclimates in parts of Idaho County were among nine counties in which the prospects were reasonable. But throughout the state, commercial production is iffy, because cold nights can freeze crops and severe winters occasionally will kill vines in the ground.

The Uhlorns are still growing grapes.

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