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Heavy Rains Have Major Impact on Arkansas Crops


by Tyler Hale

Farmers in the northeastern part of the state may be facing crop losses as a result of heavy rains in August.

According to a University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture press release, counties in northeast Arkansas have been hit with “unusually heavy rains” that have prevented farmers from harvesting their crops. Rainfall has measured around 12 inches so far in August, with some counties receiving 10 inches in one night.

Farmers have not been able to remove water from their fields, in some cases, because nearby ditches are full. In some cases, water has been high enough to go over levees and go into houses.

As a result of high water, many crops have been submerged, and some have even started rotting. Mississippi County Extension Agent Shawn Lancaster said soybeans in the northern half of Mississippi County have been severely impacted by the rain. Lancaster is anticipating substantial soybean yield losses in the county.

“Soybeans are experiencing the biggest hit,” he said. “The beans are sprouting in the pods and a lot of them are rotting. It smells like a sewer pond out here with all the rotting vegetation.”

Jeremy Ross, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture soybean agronomist, said soybeans that are in the lower parts of fields, where the water is deepest, will be the most impacted. Some areas will be affected more than others, he said, but he expects that “after pulling some plants and squeezing pods…it may not be that bad.”

Ross estimates a 10 to 15 percent yield loss for soybeans. However, farmers and extension agents will not be able to determine the full extent of the loss until the harvest is over. “The real test will be to see what the combines tell us when they can get in there,” Ross said.

Rice growers have also experienced problems due to rain, although it has been less severe than with soybeans. Jarrod Hardke, Division of Agriculture rice agronomist, pinpoints the pressing problem as the harvesting delay, noting, ““The longer rice is in the field, the more bad things can happen.”

While the rice is ready to be harvested, farmers are struggling to drain the fields due to excess water in ditches.

Corn has also been impacted in some areas, where the rain has prevented corn from drying. UA agronomists are concerned that farmers will see a loss of grain quality because the corn is not drying quickly.

Also, if corn falls over in the fields, combines will not be able to pick all of the crops up, according to Jason Kelley, UA agronomist for corn, wheat and grains. “The big concern is the longer it’s in the field, the greater the risk of lodging,” Kelley said. “If the corn is falling over, you can’t get it all in the combine.”

RELATED: Learn more about Arkansas farm families.

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