Thousands of acres of Arkansas farmland was under water Monday in the wake of a weekend storm system that dumped up to 10.4 inches of rain in parts of eastern Arkansas.
The National Weather Service at Little Rock reported that the 7.5 inches that fell at Augusta in Woodruff County set a new record for highest 24-hour rainfall. Des Arc, in Prairie County, also set a new 24-hour record with 4.75 inches of rain.
The list for 36-hour rainfall totals was topped by a 10.36-inch measurement at Little Dixie, which straddles the Prairie-Woodruff County line, followed by a 9.7-inch measurement at a State Plant Board gauge at Howell in Woodruff County. (See: http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=LZK&product=PNS&issuedby=LZK)
On Monday, farmers, county extension and others were assessing the damage.
“Secretary (Butch) Calhoun has asked extension agents in the Cache and White River basins of the delta to survey flood damage from the almost 7 inches of rain that was received over the weekend,” Zach Taylor, spokesman for the Arkansas Agriculture Department, said Monday.
Eugene Terhune, Woodruff County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said he and his county’s Farm Service Agency director were surveying damage Monday morning.
“I’ve heard that we received 8-plus inches,” he said Monday. “It was the most water I’ve seen in McCrory in the 22 years I’ve lived there.”
Flood warnings were issued for the Cache River near Patterson, the White River near Augusta and on the L’Anguille River at Palestine, according to the National Weather Service offices in Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock.
“We received 3 to 8 inches of rain across Prairie County,” said Brent Griffin, Prairie County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Griffin shared images of crop fields completely submerged under new lakes.
“The worst areas are east of the White River. Some of those acres won’t be replanted due to it being so late by the time the fields dry out,” he said.
Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist, wasn’t expecting any good news from eastern Arkansas. “The cotton was still struggling from previous rains there.”
Mitch Crow, St. Francis County extension staff chair, said “we had 8 inches about three weeks ago out west of Forrest City. We lost about a quarter of our cotton variety demonstration then, and it was replanted to soybeans.
“This is adding much more injury to our crops,” he said, adding “I had 6 inches in my rain gauge at Colt.”
Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said that “13 inches of rain or any of the large amounts we are hearing is not good. If we could have spread that amount of rain over a month or more, that would have been ideal.”
Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist, said Monday that he’d already gotten a few calls from growers and “I’m expecting more in the next few days.”
Decisions about what action to take next “will be on a field-to-field basis,” he said, adding he was headed to see fields Monday afternoon.
Flood on flood
The flooding impact in rice will depend on the depth of rainfall, said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Many acres of rice were already flooded by irrigation or rain as a normal and essential part of the crop’s growth.
“In areas that received only a few inches of rainfall, it likely helped growers increase flood depth and reduce pumping costs,” he said. “In areas that received increased rainfall, there is concern for the bottom of fields flooding to the point of washing out levees and putting rice under water.
“The rice under water for a few days will be fine, but if levees are lost we will also lose the flood on reproductive stage rice – which is a very bad thing,” Hardke said. “One positive is that this flooding occurred before much rice in the state has begun heading – headed rice under water could greatly affect yield.”
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