Arkansas farmers on Monday were trying to make the most of a rarity: consecutive days of sunshine. However, some growers may have to wait before firing up the harvesters.
“It was still too wet for anyone to harvest this weekend,” Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said Monday. “I talked with one grower this morning and he said it might be Wednesday before the ground is firm enough to harvest.
“Some fields are completely under water and we will have wait for the water to come down,” Ross said. Some areas of Poinsett County “have received 78 inches of rainfall since April 27.”
Growers with rice and cotton in the fields may have a slight advantage.
“With rice and cotton, a little sun and wind will dry it out,” said Don Plunkett, Jefferson County Extension staff chair with the U of A Division of Agriculture.
Tom Barber, Extension cotton agronomist with the division, was working an Extension plot in Woodruff County, just north of Brinkley, Ark., on Monday afternoon.
“We’re picking cotton today,” he said. “A few guys are running on the sandier fields, but elsewhere, it’ll take today to dry out. It’s not going to hurt to wait another day.”
Barber said that with 10 days of dry weather in the forecast, the growers will get a lot done.
Conditions weren’t so great in southeastern Arkansas, he said, but added there were bad spots all around.
“The guys around the rivers and tributaries of the White, St. Francis and Cache are still underwater and are waiting for some draining and drying,” he said.
The National Weather Service said for the White River at Clarendon was forecast to rise to 29.9 feet by Saturday, well above the 26-foot flood stage. The Cache at Patterson was beginning to decline from its 11.6-foot stage on Monday — well above its 8-foot flood stage.
Woodruff County Extension Staff Chair Eugene Terhune said some of the cotton producers in his county were “still waiting on bolls to open in some fields because the cold weather has slowed the crop.
“It wouldn’t be bad for the thermostat to go up a bit,” he said. “Any increase in temperature has got to help us.”
Plunkett estimated about 25 percent of Jefferson County’s 24,000 acres of corn had yet to be harvested.
“That’s a tremendous amount,” Plunkett said. “In any other year, we would be through harvesting in September.”
The wind and rain caused some of the corn to lodge, but the ears were not on the ground, he said, adding that about 60 percent of the county’s 133,000 acres of soybeans were also awaiting harvest.
Winter wheat planting was at a standstill, with no planting progress made, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
NASS said that in Arkansas for the week ending Nov. 1:
• Corn was 93 percent harvested, up from 91 percent the previous week.
• Cotton was 19 percent harvested, up from 15 percent the previous week.
• Rice was 84 percent harvested, up from 80 percent the previous week.
• Soybeans were 43 percent harvested, up from 39 percent the previous week, but well off from the five-year average of 100 percent.
• Winter wheat slowed was 25 percent planted, same as the previous week; 20 percent emerged, compared with 12 percent the previous week.