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Arkansas harvest nears end

Arkansas farmers wind down harvest heading into Thanksgiving week. Rice harvest complete, cotton at 98 percent, soybeans at 93 percent. Cotton growers waiting out rain delays north of I-40.

A week out from Thanksgiving, Arkansas farmers were wrapping up the 2011 harvest and continuing to speed winter wheat into the ground.

“The harvest is all but over,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips County Extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “I know of about 1,000 acres left.”

On Tuesday afternoon, producers north of I-40 were watching up to 3 inches of rainfall on their fields, which was likely to translate into 100 percent chance of mud.

“The rain will be good for ducks but will make for wet, muddy, difficult harvest conditions for the soybeans that remain in the field,” said Keith Perkins, Lonoke County Extension agent. “Coming from a farming background I can tell you that there is a great satisfaction from harvesting the last bean and machinery being put up till spring.”

For the folks south of I-40, the clouds were a little less forthcoming.

“As far as the rain today, it hadn’t started as of 1 p.m., but looks like it could anytime,” Goodson said. “For 99 percent-plus of our producers, a rain would not hurt their feelings at all – aside from the guy who still had 1,000 acres to harvest.

“In fact several would like a real good rain to fill duck holes.”

Just in time, too. Duck season opens Saturday.

For many growers, the combines may already be in the shed. According to Monday’s crop report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the rice harvest was complete, with cotton not far behind at 98 percent complete. Soybeans were 93 percent harvested.

North of I-40, most of the cotton is out of the fields, said Blake McClelland, cotton verification coordinator.  “There are a few fields left and they are being delayed by the rain.”

Winter wheat was 89 percent planted, well ahead of the 76 percent five-year average and up from last week’s 79 percent rate. Wheat was also 68 percent emerged – far ahead of the 56 percent five-year average.

“Dry weather up to this point has allowed for most wheat acres to be planted,” Perkins said. “Also, a lot of field work has been done getting prepared for 2012 crop year.”

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