Arkansas row crop growers welcomed what the National Weather Service said was a brief break in the dry weather, but in places the rain skipped, producers are praying for water.
The National Weather Service at Little Rock said the next chance for rain was next Tuesday (July 5). Until then, much of Arkansas would see dry, hot days with highs in the upper 90s.
Some parts of western and central Arkansas saw record rainfall.
However, Lafayette County remained dry, Joe Vestal, county Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said Wednesday.
“We didn’t get a drop here,” he said. While praying for rain, one of his county producers is spending north of $22,000 every 10 days for diesel to power irrigation pumps.
The drought has withered pastures in the county.
“I talked to a guy yesterday and he’s already started feeding hay,” Vestal said. “Hay supplies are going to be critical if we don’t get rain later in the summer and fall.”
Vestal said there was a downside to late season hay growth. “We’ll be feeding the armyworms.” However, “right now, an armyworm would have to be carrying his sack lunch with him.”
On the upside of the ledger, a 2-inch rain will mean a less worrisome long weekend in Lincoln County.
“Everybody I talked to today is very happy and will be taking a long July 4th weekend,” said Lincoln County Extension staff chair Chad Norton. “The rain was perfect on our double-cropped soybeans and will last them a while.
“Our telephone and internet were knocked out by a lightning strike beside our office. Luckily no one was hurt and all of our electronics seem to be okay except for a few old phones.”
In Prairie County, “we received anywhere from 1 to 2.5 inches, a very blessed rain,” said Brent Griffin, Extension staff chair. “Growers will be able to finish soybean planting, catch up on corn and rice irrigation.
“Any runoff was quickly recaptured into reservoirs and tail water ditches. We are still along way from the finish line but at least we will make the first furlong.”
Ron Baker, Clay County Extension agent, said that most of the county received rainfall that ranged from .2 of an inch to 1.75 inches without a lot of wind. “All of that was very much needed, especially in fields of shallow-planted soybeans where it gave enough moisture to get the beans up to a good stand. However, up to 4 inches of rain with high winds did some damage near our county’s southwest border in the Knobel-Peach Orchard area. There are reports from that area of severe green snap in corn, blown out rice levees and flooded fields of small soybeans.
“So, much like rains earlier this month, the rain yesterday was a mixed blessing that helped some but hurt others,” Baker said.
Several fireworks stands were destroyed and some buildings sustained roof and siding damage when storms rolled through Sharp County on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Trees or power lines were downed in Independence, Sharp and Garland counties and hail an inch or larger in diameter was reported n Montgomery, Hot Spring and Garland counties.
The 1.57 inches of rain that fell in Mount Ida broke the old record of 1.27 inches set in 1986. North Little Rock also broke a rain record with its 1.48-inch total. The old record of 1.29 inches was set in 1997.
“We were in bad need of a rain,” said Woodruff County Extension staff chair Eugene Terhune, adding the county received anywhere from .3 inches up to an inch of rain. “That should help get some of the little soybeans up and growing.”
The story was the same in Desha County. “We got enough rain to make a difference,” said Wes Kirkpatrick, Extension staff chair. “Some areas got as much as 1.5 inches. The range was probably 0.5 to 1.5 inches.”
Rain was hit or miss in Poinsett County, said Mike Hamilton, Extension agent. “We only got about 0.2 inch in most places with spotty reports of a half-inch to 0.8 inch of rain. Not a lot of relief, but better than nothing.”
Meanwhile, burn bans were in effect in Ashley, Chicot, Cleveland, Columbia, Conway, Drew, Garland, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Pike, Polk, Nevada, Ouachita and Van Buren counties. The Arkansas Forestry Commission said the wildfire danger was moderate in most of the state south of a line from Polk to Saline to Desha counties.