Christmas Valley, Oregon, is the perfect place to grow alfalfa.The aquifer in Christmas Valley and Fort Rock, a basin-filled aquifer, was put under a moratorium in the 1970s when it was developed for residential lots and agricultural activities. The moratorium has served the purpose of maintaining the aquifer levels for long-term sustainability. Water rights are bought and sold by the farmers in the region as the water rights gravitate toward their highest and best locations in the Valley. No new water rights have been permitted since the moratorium. Generally speaking, the value for water rights would be roughly $3,500-$4,000 per acre in 2022. This aquifer is one of the most resilient in Oregon compared to Klamath Falls, Harney County, and most other aquifers in Eastern and Central Oregon.
I believe the Christmas Valley aquifer is and will continue to be the most sustainable agricultural water source in Oregon, aside from some areas in the Columbia River Basin. Groundwater in the Fort Rock/Christmas Valley Lake Basin occurs under confined, unconfined, and perched conditions. Winter precipitation within the basin is the primary source of groundwater recharge. Within the Christmas Valley portion of the basin, the natural flow of groundwater leaves the basin by evapotranspiration, and the regional groundwater gradient is essentially flat (OWRD, 1986). The primary groundwater reservoir comprises volcanic and sedimentary materials. The reservoir displays both confined and unconfined conditions depending on location. These aquifers tend to be pressurized and have 20' to 80' static water levels with pump depths around 120'. Draw-down can be 5' to 40' with a good, clean well. Consequently, farmers in this area spend very little on KW/ton compared to most other areas in Oregon, Idaho and California. Generally speaking, a farmer in this basin should expect to pay $7 to $10 per ton of alfalfa for their power.
Soil, climate, and consistent quality water combine across a small region of Fort Rock & Christmas Valley, Oregon, to create near-ideal growing conditions for high-quality alfalfa and other marketable forages. The high-elevation climate, paired with its cooler nights, tends to slow the growth of alfalfa in the region, giving it a higher leaf-to-stem ratio. This produces lower lignin and higher protein hay, which is what the best dairy farmers covet.
Typically the first of the three cuttings of alfalfa in this region starts near the beginning of June, as daytime temperatures are beginning to warm and nighttime lows tend not to dip below freezing. The last cutting tends to be near the end of September, as the seasons abruptly change, and freezing weather is knocking on the door.
This particular operator has turned alfalfa and forage farming into an art form. Known as one of the best operators in the region, the farmer relies on using the newest equipment, constant testing, and innovative applications to produce the highest yields and best quality.
One of the most critical aspects of this farm is the quality of the pivots and infrastructure. All the pivots have individual wells, and the infrastructure, power panels, and hay storage sheds have been updated to like-new condition.
This alfalfa farm is centrally located between the California and Washington dairy markets and an easy drive to the Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Center.
The Christmas Valley Farm consists of 1,465 acres, 9 pivots, seven hay storage sheds, and 1,135 acres under pivot. All of the irrigated ground is under pivot for efficiency. The infrastructure on their farm has been well-maintained and updated. There are no dwellings on this farm. The farmer/operator is willing to lease the farm for 4% per annum for up to 5 years with the possibility of renewal. The seller intends to custom farm in the area from this point forward. Christmas Valley Packet.pdf