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Arkansas Crops Flattened in Thursday Storms

Flooded fields create more planting delays.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas farmers are facing flattened crops, flooded fields and even more planting delays Friday in the wake of fierce weather on Thursday, with more in the forecast for Saturday. 

The storms were being blamed for at least two deaths, one at Tull and the death of Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter, who was checking on a home near Y City as floodwaters rose. A body was found Friday morning in Coleman Creek, the University of Arkansas-Little Rock said. No further information was available.

Tornado-related injuries were reported Thursday in Montgomery and Clark counties. Roads in Faulkner, Pulaski, Saline and Garland counties were rendered impassable Thursday night by floodwaters.

Daily rainfall records were set at North Little Rock, with 1.68 inches; Hot Springs at 1.75 inches, Batesville at .76 inches, and Mount Ida, 3.42 inches, National Weather Service said. 

John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service said another round of storms is expected Saturday with the greatest chances of severe weather being in northeastern Arkansas.

Flash flood watches were in effect for much of northern and western Arkansas through Saturday evening. 

Weather-related setbacks
Farmers are multi-tasking at this time of the year, planting rice, cotton and soybeans and getting ready for the winter wheat harvest in a week or so. Frequent rain this year has already caused many delays in planting.

“I've heard estimates of 7 inches-plus in that part of the county and as much as 11 inches just across the county line in Poinsett and Cross counties,” said Jackson County Extension Staff Chair Randy Chlapecka. “When your rain gauge overflows, it's hard to know exactly how much there was.”

Prairie County received between 3 and 5.5 inches of rain overnight, said Brent Griffin, the county’s extension staff chairman for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Friday morning, “Lodged wheat will be checked for hail damage,” he said. “Rice levees were blown out and corn lodged. The good news is that the corn should stand back up.”

Soybean do-overs
Extension Soybean Agronomist Jeremy Ross surveyed fields as he drove from Des Arc to Jonesboro on Friday morning.

“Any soybeans planted this week will probably need to be replanted,” he said. “We had several plots planted over the last two days at Newport, and these plots now have 6 inches of water over them.  These plots will probably need to be replanted. 

“It doesn't look good, especially with more rain today and tomorrow,” Ross said. “Very different year than last year.”
 
The rainy spring has been especially hard for the state’s rice growers and Thursday’s storms --which dumped up to 7 inches in northeastern Arkansas -- were insult upon injury. 

“Water is everywhere,” Woodruff County Extension Staff Chair Eugene Terhune, said as he drove between McCrory and Augusta on Friday morning,

“We had some fields that were trying to get dry and now, it’ll be longer than a week before the producers can get into them at this rate.”

“A lot of rice has been planted in the past few days,” said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Reports of bayous backing out into fields – some freshly planted. 

“Submerged portions of fields will only delay an already delayed crop,” he said. “Many fields were just reaching the point of needing herbicide and fertilizer applications so they could be flooded – this event could lead to a week-long delay in those activities causing further problems with weed control and plant health.”

Just enough in SE Arkansas
Rainfall was much less in southeastern Arkansas, where corn growers began irrigating last week. In Desha County, Extension Staff Chair Wes Kirkpatrick said about .75 to 1 inch fell. 

“It will keep us from having to crank the wells back up until Monday or Tuesday,” he said. “Not quite the ‘million dollar rain’ we wrote about last year, but helpful nonetheless. We still have some soybeans to be planted, and this rain will also give us some good moisture to plant into.”

Brutal weather in the west
“We have had extreme flooding all night,” Carla Vaught, Polk County extension staff chair said Thursday night, adding that the storms crippled cell phone, landline and 911 service.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department closed Polk Co. Highway 88 due to a landslide and Scott Co. Highway 28 was closed due to flooding and highway damage.

Power was knocked out to some 30,000 customers statewide.

Story by: Mary Hightower, Cooperative Extension Service - University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
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