By Tuesday morning, the soils Desha County had seen an virtually full reversal of fortune.
“A week ago, we were needing the rain,” John Farabough, Desha county agricultural extension agent, mentioned. “We went from powder-dry dust to four inches of standing water, minimum, everywhere.”
Desha County, together with many of the Delta Area and greater than two-thirds of the counties in Arkansas, acquired extraordinary quantities of rain over the weekend and effectively into this week, persevering with by way of Wednesday morning.
Tuesday morning, the Nationwide Climate Service issued a flash flood warning for the southern half of Arkansas, in addition to adjoining parts of Louisiana and Texas. By Tuesday afternoon, the service issued a major climate advisory for parts of Bradley and Clark counties, predicting heavy rain, half-inch hail and winds in extra of 40 mph.
By Wednesday morning, greater than 13 inches of rain had fallen in Desha County and a few adjoining counties in each Arkansas and Mississippi. Between one and 5 inches of rain had fallen over most counties within the central and southern thirds of the state.
“I’ve seen soybeans, corn, and rice in floods where you can’t even see the levees out in the rice field,” Farabough mentioned. “In Dumas, they’re shutting a lot of businesses, just because so much of the flooding has backed up.”
Kurt Beaty, Jefferson County agricultural extension agent, toured his county all through Tuesday, photographing fields each flooded and filled with lodged corn and wheat.
“We’ve got definite flood damage in Altheimer,” Beaty mentioned. “In Cornerstone, they got about eight inches of rain.”
Spring rains are, after all, nothing new to Arkansas. However the depth of the previous week’s rain comes at a time when many of the state’s row crops usually are not solely planted however emerged, in line with a June 7 report from the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Nationwide Agricultural Statistics Service.
Many Arkansas counties, notably these within the Delta area, acquired heavy quantities of rainfall between June 6-9. (Kurt Beaty)
Jason Kelley, wheat and feed grains agronomist for the College of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, mentioned that a lot of the state’s wheat crop is mature and almost prepared for harvest, making it notably susceptible to saturating rains.
“Any rain after maturity is never a good thing,” Kelley mentioned. “And we’ve had a lot of rain all through the season. We’ve had trouble getting the fertilizer out — wet fields can reduce yield just because of poor drainage, and we’ve had some of that as well, but the real kicker is what’s happening right now.”
Wheat buy costs, approaching $7 a bushel, are larger than they’ve been in a few decade, Kelley mentioned. However kernels broken by rain situations may imply substantial from consumers, and even wholesale rejection of the grain.
“We’re still waiting to see what the total impact of this rain will be, but lower test weight is the big concern,” Kelley mentioned. “Farmers get docked for low test weight wheat. and the dockage can get pretty steep. If the price gets really low, it might not even sell.”
Kelley mentioned the heavy rains will possible have an effect on correct fertilization for among the state’s corn crop.
“A lot of corn growers would normally be trying to irrigate right now,” Kelley mentioned. “In that sense, the rain is sweet. The unhealthy half is that we’ve nonetheless acquired some folks nonetheless making an attempt to get fertilizer out, or they could be performing some late spraying for weeds, in order that’s an issue.
“If you’ve got a lot of saturated soil like that, even if you’ve already got your nitrogen fertilizer out, well, when it goes underwater like that, you may lose some of that nitrogen,” he mentioned.
“The bigger issue I’ve seen so far, however, is wind damage,” Kelley mentioned. “We’ve got some fields that are blown over or leaning — that’s going to have an impact on yield.”
Kelley mentioned that some fields have many corn vegetation which have skilled “green snap,” through which the corn stalks themselves snap and break.
“The corn is at a stage where it’s rapidly growing, without the root system to really anchor it,” he mentioned. “Some may stand back up, that remains to be seen.”
Many of the state’s roughly 1.4 million acres of rice is grown in flood situations, making a rain occasion just like the one Arkansas is experiencing this week much less impactful for the crop.
Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, mentioned the first concern is the reliability of the levees that include the crop’s managed flood state.
“In fields where we have already fertilized and flooded we’ll lose the flood and both nitrogen efficiency and weed control,” Hardke mentioned. “Many fields we haven’t flooded and need to, we’ll be forced to get it dry enough to repair levees before we can fertilize and flood.”
If water from the storms doesn’t drain off inside per week, growers might face stagnant water situations which may impression the crop’s survival, Hardke mentioned, though rice can often survive such a state of affairs for 10 days.
“Cooler, moving water generally keeps submerged rice alive even for extended periods of time,” he mentioned.
Invoice Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, mentioned extended publicity to standing water can impression cotton vegetation.
“Excessive rainfall amounts like some have experienced is never a good thing,” Robertson mentioned. “Sometimes even a quick four-inch rain can present issues with standing water in fields and prolonged wet field conditions. Some have experienced three to four times this amount.”
Robertson mentioned that some elements of the cotton rising season had “just gotten back up to speed this week,” though many growers are nonetheless struggling to regulate Palmer amaranth, generally referred to as pigweed, and different pests together with thrips.
“At this point of the season, almost everything on the farm revolves around pigweed control,” he mentioned. “Pigweed management has not gone as deliberate this yr and the present climate state of affairs is making issues worse.
“While we take the rain when we can get it, we are anxious for some bright and sunny days to enable our crop to try and make up some ground lost during the cold weather experienced during Memorial Day weekend,” Robertson mentioned.
The longer-term forecast from the Nationwide Climate Service at Little Rock exhibits one thing of a reprieve from the waterworks, with the prospect for rain in its warning space lowering to 20-30 % beginning Thursday evening by way of Sunday.
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