HOOPER -- Rulon Fowers, a hay farmer in Hooper, is hopeful for the next year.
Statewide, farmers intend to plant more acres of barley, wheat and hay than they did last year, and sow just as much corn and oat seeds, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The most significant increase is in the amount of barley that farmers intend to plant, which the USDA reported as up 14 percent.
The figures are gathered through a survey, and the agricultural industry watches for them at this time each year.
The survey is one of the most important sources of information for producers for finalizing their crop and marketing plans, said John Hilton, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Utah, in a statement.
"Grain prices are up and look good," Fowers said. Still, fuel prices and the cost of fertilizer and equipment have gone up, so farmers like him have to hope that they can make a profit, he said.
Fowers said he gets a certain satisfaction from his work, knowing that "what you're doing is good" -- but he adds that it takes money to keep the operation going.
What impact water supply will have on their crops is yet another variable that farmers like Fowers are watching.
Water managers say the reservoirs will be full with runoff, despite a winter that saw only 50 to 75 percent the normal snowfall, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, but a drop could affect irrigation, Fowers said.
"We kind of have to go with the flow. We can't control Mother Nature. We have to take what we are given," he said.
Man could have a hand in their futures, too. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sent out a survey two weeks ago to find out what interest and capabilities are available to demolish and construct a spillway modification at Echo Dam.
Fowers anticipates that construction at the reservoir could drop the water level.
Still, projections statewide are positive, and the growth ahead comes after a weaker year for Utah's output.
Utah farmers doubled the amount of barley and oat they stored off farm -- but the amount of off-farm corn dropped 17 percent and wheat dropped slightly as well, according to the USDA.
Though a mixed bag, Utah's performance last year was still better than the national trend for those grains. U.S. farmers produced 10 to 16 percent less in all four categories, the USDA reports.