High winds, rains batter farmers as harvest progresses

by George Jared ([email protected]) 363 views 

Hurricane Delta, the 25th named Atlantic storm this year, brought high winds and inches of rain to the Delta more than a week ago, but the impacts from the storm appear to be minimal.

According to the National Weather Service in Little Rock, winds as high as 47 miles per hour were recorded in Drew County and as high as 48 miles per hour in Jefferson County on Oct. 10.

Most areas in the southeast corner of the state had 3-4 inches of rain during the 48-hour period beginning Oct. 10. The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office reported a downed power line and other wind damage in Warren.

In Desha County, county extension agent John Farabough said the rains brought a degree of lodging and boll loss.

“Talking to farmers and consultants around the county, we’ve seen some damage in cotton with either plants laying on the ground or bolls laying on the ground,” Farabough said. “Seems like farther south you go the worse it gets. Soybeans took a large hit this weekend as well. After looking around the county, lots of soybean fields ended up on the ground after 4 inches of rain and high winds. Always a worry this time of year is frequent rain fall holding farmers out of the field and damaging crops the longer they sit out in the field.”

While harvest efforts have been a battle for most commodities in the state, cotton growers have seen a particularly tough month. On Oct. 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that only 13% of the state’s cotton acreage had been harvested. The following week offered a ray of hope, however, as producers more than doubled their progress, bringing the harvested acreage to 30% of the cotton planted in the state. While still well behind the five-year average of 47% at this point in the season, the harvest appeared to be picking up steam.

Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the storm slowed the harvest.

“Wednesday (Oct. 14) was our first day back in the field after Delta,” Robertson said. “That was a pretty good day for cotton and peanut harvests.”

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