With no end in sight to the heavy rains that are soaking Oregon, Rogue Farms in Independence was closed due to flooding through the end of the year. In late December, the Willamette River poured over its banks, sending floodwaters rushing over the main road and filling Rogue’s hopyard with water several feet deep.
Even by Oregon standards it was a wild December. Nonstop rain, snow and ice have hit the region for weeks, causing widespread flooding and mudslides and breaking a 124-year-old rainfall record. Rogue Farms received more than 13 inches of rain this month, three times more than a typical December. On the other side of Mt. Hood, the rain turned into snow, dropping nearly a foot at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Ore.
Winter floods and snow are a part of the natural cycle at Rogue Farms and one of the reasons the farm has such great terroir for growing hops and malting barley. Winter floods and rain replenish soil moisture at a time when the crops need it most. They are especially welcomed after years of drought.
The floods also deposit a new layer of sediment, building up the soil each time they visit. The rich, alluvial loam at Rogue Farms is the legacy of centuries of Ice Age floods and seasonal flooding of the Willamette River. Floods are how Mother Nature grows dirt.