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Serving: Central

Harvest in a hurry: Isaac prompts late nights in the field

Speed harvesting continues; Prairie County could have 50 percent of rice harvested before Isaac. Have a shelter-at-home kit ready in case the power goes out.

This week’s pre-Isaac harvest-in-a-hurry may cause a jump in the harvested acres in next week’s Arkansas Crop Progress report, but there may be some bumps in handling the crop once it’s out of the field. 

One worried Prairie County farmer “finished rice harvest at 11 p.m. last night and was moving to the neighbor’s field to help,” Brent Griffin, the county’s Extension staff chair, said Wednesday. “And that was at 8 a.m. today.”

The farmer told him he was pushing because he feared his rice crop would be “kaput” once Isaac arrived.

“Hard to believe, but the farmers in Prairie County will have harvested close to 50 percent of the rice acreage” before Friday’s expected arrival of Isaac. Prairie County has 55,000 acres of rice.

Statewide, rice had been 22 percent harvested according to Monday’s crop report. Soybeans were at 8 percent, sorghum was at 65 percent, soybeans were at 8 percent harvested and corn was at 78 percent. In cotton, 41 percent of bolls were opening.

Lonoke County Extension agent Keith Perkins said even though row crop farmers may be going at top speed, “the most limiting factor is some place to put the grain.

“You only have so many trucks and carts and once they are full, you have to wait until they’re emptied at the bin, dryer, elevator or mill to start filling it again. Grain elevators are not open 24 hours and getting trucks unloaded can be a waiting game.

“We don't plant the whole county in one day or week and can't expect to harvest it all in one day. We’ve been in good shape so, but Isaac may change harvest conditions from good to terrible.”

The other limiting factor is that the low Mississippi River continues to put grain shipments on hold. Even though the main channel is open, low water in ports in Mississippi and Phillips counties have prompted closure of ports, with barges idle until the water rises or the dredges get to work.

Water on the way

The 3:12 p.m. Wednesday eastern rain projection map from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center showed amounts of about 8 to 9 inches running through the central third of Arkansas in a swath running north to south. The storm has moved slowly once making landfall and its progress is hard to predict. The good news that the track also has the storm paralleling the Ohio River Valley offering the possibility that more water will be added to the Mississippi River.

“Isaac will be a tropical depression by the time it reaches Arkansas,” said Deborah Tootle, associate professor-Community and Economic Development for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Nonetheless, it can still dump a lot of water on us in a short period of time.” She warned that “residents need to be especially alert to the possibilities of flash floods and flooding along some of our rivers.”

Isaac had already knocked power out to more than 500,000 people along the Gulf coast in its first hours ashore.

“Anyone in the path also needs to prepare for power outages and have a shelter-at-home-kit ready,” she said. “It is important to remember that they could be without help and on their own for the first 72 hours.”  

A shelter-a-home-kit should include at least a three-day supply of water at a rate of one gallon per person per day, plus water for pets, a three-day supply of non-perishable foods and NOAA radio.

To find out more about preparing a shelter-at-home kit, see here

For flood preparedness see here.


Tornado preparedness tipsheet available here.


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