Arkansas’ parched western counties welcomed the weekend rain, but row crop farmers in the eastern part are trying to harvest between storm fronts.
“This summer, any rain is a good rain,” Lance Kirkpatrick, Logan County Extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said Monday.
Logan is one of dozens of counties categorized as suffering severe to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released last Thursday. The deepest drought is in Lafayette, Little River and Miller counties in the southwest corner.
Lafayette County Staff Chair Joe Vestal said his county received anywhere from .5 to .9 inches over the weekend. “The rain was very good for pastures, not so good for cotton and rice fields waiting to be harvested.
“One grower who farms some heavy clay fields had soil cracks as wide as 4 to 5 inches. After the rain, he still had soil cracks and could not even tell any rain had fallen this morning because the soil is so dry.”
Vestal said the dry soil conditions are becoming an issue for wheat growers needing to begin wheat seeding for grazing. More rain will be needed to get good wheat stands.
Miller County, one of the driest in the state, received more than 1.5 inches Sunday night and Monday morning. “We got more rain than we have had total since May 20,” said Doug Petty, Miller County Extension staff chair. “We aren’t out of the woods yet, but there is now some hope of planting winter forage that we didn't have last week.”
Unfortunately, the weekend rain was “too late for this summer’s crops. All corn is harvested, and the rain may cause some extra problems with bean harvest. A lot of the beans are being baled for hay.”
In northwest Arkansas, Benton County hay growers and livestock owners were feeling encouraged by the 2 inches of rain that fell over four days.
“Along with the cool temperature pattern it will create a buzz of fall forage plantings in an effort to develop some relief for the short hay supplies,” said Robert Seay, Benton County Extension staff chair. “Also, expect a boost in volume and quality of the last hay cuttings made between now and Nov.1. Customers are waiting patiently, yet more enthusiastically, than from a week ago.”
In Prairie County, in the eastern part of the state, between one-half and 2 inches of rain fell, said Brent Griffin, county Extension staff chair.
“Rice harvest has been at standstill for the past four days due to light showers and cloudy weather, but close to 65 percent done,” he said Monday, adding that the rain was welcome in soybean fields. “The areas where only a half-inch fell, soybean irrigation is continuing on the group V varieties.”
Soybeans are generally grouped by how quickly they mature.
While the weekend rain didn’t create any major headaches, cotton farmers are in need of dry weather.
“The weekend weather but will probably increase hardlock bolls and delay defoliation as well as harvest,” said Tom Barber, Extension cotton agronomist.
Hardlock is a condition where the fibers in the cotton boll don’t fluff and the boll can’t be picked by conventional harvesting equipment.
“As of this morning have 0.7 inches of rain,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips and Lee county Extension agent. “This is really not good for cotton. Harvest started Friday and the rain has the ability to affect both yield and grade.”