Storms impact rice and cotton harvests

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 183 views 

Heavy winds and rains blew across much of northeastern Arkansas and surrounding areas last week and it will likely impact both rice and cotton harvests, as growers try to make the most of otherwise favorable conditions.

The National Weather Service reported Thursday (Sept. 26) that more than half a dozen counties in the northeast corner of the state had received between 1-4 inches of rain, with as much as 5 inches concentrated in central Jackson County. Heavier rainfall averages, spanning 3-6 inches, were also recorded in northwestern counties, where the agriculture is primarily dominated by cattle, poultry and the grazing acreage needed to support ranching.

Branon Thiesse, staff chair for the Craighead County Cooperative Extension Service office, said the western half of his county received about 2 inches of rain Wednesday (Sept. 25) night.

“The system that went through last night had some pretty significant winds,” Thiesse said Thursday. “There’s not a whole lot of rice left — they’ve gotten the bulk of it out. But the fields that are left, they could see some lodging.”

Thiesse said he was more concerned about cotton in his county, however, most of which remains to be harvested.

“Heavy wind and rain will pull the lint right out of the bolls if this continues,” he said. “We’re right on the front end of harvest, so we don’t need any more of this stuff — it needs to get out of here, so we can get to pickin’.”

Jarrod Hardke, rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said damage to unharvested rice acres was visible as he toured areas in northern Arkansas following the storms.

“Wind and rain did a number on remaining rice in the field,” he said. “Fields ready for harvest have anywhere from small patches to large swaths of downed rice. This will definitely slow down harvest in these fields and increase wear and tear on combines.”

Jeffrey Works, agricultural agent for the Poinsett Cooperative Extension office, said Wednesday night’s rain broke a nearly month-long dry streak for the county, during which growers had done much to reclaim the calendar from nearly a year of ongoing, intermittent rains.

“These farmers have been going at it non-stop, cutting,” Works said. “It’s a lot different than last year, for sure.”

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