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Arkansas rainfall/production update

After much summer drought and heat, the Arkansas harvest has been hit with Tropical Storm Hermine rains.

After months of 100-degree heat and drought, remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine are providing both opportunity and frustration for Arkansas farmers.

Rain from the tropical system fell Thursday for a third straight day and the National Weather Service posted multiple flash flood warnings across the northern tier of counties.

While some were surprised -- not only by Hermine’s seemingly sudden appearance in the western Gulf but also its endurance once over land -- Phil Sims, Pope County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, joked that he “should have seen it coming. The Pope County Fair starts next week. It has been a muddy fair every year I have been here but maybe one.”

Still, most of the growers he’s spoken to were pleased with the rain.

“The rain has been slow enough to avoid flooding problems,” Sims said. The downside is the rain “was a little too little, too late, for non-irrigated soybeans.”

Livestock producers were working to get pastures fertilized one more time to get growth to stock for winter forage. 

Keith Martin, White County Extension agent, said rainfall amounts varied widely around the county, but for the most part the rainfall was positive.

“We are a long way from flooding – we are not really even muddy!” he said. “We have had about .75 to 1 inch of rain total. 

“It fell slowly and all soaked in. Some of the county had not had any significant rainfall since early July until this week.”

The county’s soybean growers were particularly pleased.

“Several had limited their soybean irrigation since most of the irrigation reservoirs are empty,” Martin said.

County rice growers put their harvest on hold, “but will resume as soon as the grain dries out again in one or two days.”

Herb Ginn, Lawrence County interim Extension staff chair, said parts of the county received two to three inches of rain, all without flooding. However, “we do have a lot of rice laying flat on the ground which has happened with the recent rains. I do not believe there is a lot of worry among growers right now about rain-related issues as we had in 2009. It’s been so long since we’ve seen rain that many are just getting used to it again.”

Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County Extension staff chair, said his county saw amounts as small as 0.2 inches in the southeastern part of the county to more than two inches in the north.

“We actually still have farmers irrigating soybeans in those areas where they got lesser amounts,” said Chlapecka. “Harvest has been on hold since Tuesday morning, but with a little sunshine our rice farmers would be back in the field.”

For more information on crop production, contact your county Extension office, or or

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