Arkansas growers are finding ways to beat the mud as they struggle to harvest rice, soy, cotton and sorghum and plant winter wheat.
“A common sight in the county is harvest machinery stuck in the mud,” Rick Wimberley, Cross County, Ark., Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture said Monday. “You can go just about anywhere and find a combine mired down.”
Wimberley said growers were investing more money into additional equipment to get what’s left of the crop out of the field.
“I heard this morning that producers on the east side of Crowley’s Ridge were putting crawler tracks on machines so they can stay on top of the ground,” he said. “That’s about a $50,000 investment.”
In Poinsett County, Ark., Extension Staff Chair Rick Thompson was expecting Monday to be the only day producers in his county could get into the fields.
“They did harvest some this weekend,” he said. “The sun is out now (Monday) and if the wind blows, they will harvest this afternoon.
“Farmers that are 50-plus years old have seen some tough years, but we have a lot of farmers who have never been through anything like this one,” Thompson said. “They have a lot more money in a crop than they did back then.”
Some growers in Lonoke and Jackson counties were foregoing the mud altogether to get winter wheat planted during the window that generally closes around Nov. 15.
“I know of one producer who aerially seeded some wheat into standing soybeans a few weeks ago as the leaves began to fall,” said Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County Extension staff chair for the division.
Despite the new rounds of rain, Arkansas’ producers are making progress, according to information released Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. For the week ending Oct. 25:
• 39 percent of soybeans had been harvested, compared with 26 percent last week and 58 percent at this time last year.
• Rice was 80 percent harvested, up from 66 percent last week and down from 92 percent at the same time last year.
• Cotton was 15 percent harvested, up from 8 percent last week, but down from last year’s 70 percent.
• Sorghum was 95 percent harvested, up from 86 percent last week, but off from 100 percent at the same time last year.
• Winter wheat was 25 percent planted, up from 16 percent last week, with 12 percent of the plantings emerged.
• Corn is 91 percent harvested, up from 86 percent last week, but behind last year’s 100 percent.