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Mississippi River rising again

Mississippi rising, expected to crest below flood stage at Helena. Wet ground hampers crop planting. 

The National Weather Service has a flood advisory in effect at Helena with the Mississippi expected to crest just short of flood stage on Sunday (May 12).

Extension agents said Wednesday that there was minor flooding of farmland inside the levees.

“The water is high over here,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips County Extension agent. “The river is expected to crest at 42.5 feet. Flood stage at Helena is 44 feet.”

Goodson was down by the river late Tuesday. “There’s a lot of water out there and the current is strong in places. It almost looks like it’s a mile wide at Helena.”

In Desha County, “the water is high enough to cover a few wheat fields inside the Mississippi River levee,” said county Extension Staff Chair Wes Kirkpatrick. “However, we have very few acres in production inside the levee.”

He estimated that fewer than 200 acres were underwater.

A flood warning was issued for the river at Memphis, Tenn., where it was expected to rise to 45.5 feet on Friday, well above the 41-foot flood stage. The warning noted high water around Tunica, Miss., saying, “JT’s Bait Shop is inundated,” as were nearby lots and farmland. However, the casinos “are open and unaffected.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said there had been no requests for pumps or sandbags from Arkansas as of Wednesday morning.

The Mississippi aside, fields that are too wet to work are problematic for growers in the eastern part of the Delta.

Goodson said that at Stuttgart and “maybe, Clarendon west, they’re working the fields. We’re way behind in our planting.”

In Phillips County, he estimated that soybeans were about 30 percent planted, corn about 70 percent planted, sorghum about 10 to 15 percent planted, and rice around 20 to 30 percent.

Crop progress statewide, for the week ending May 5:

• Corn was 85 percent planted and 71 percent emerged.

• Cotton was 5 percent of the crop planted and 2 percent was emerged. 

• Rice was 48 percent planted, with 25 percent emerged.

• Sorghum was 49 percent planted, with 28 percent emergence.

• Soybeans were 14 percent planted and 5 percent emerged.

• Winter wheat was 77 percent headed.

For more information about water quality, visit, or contact your county Extension agent.  

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