A storm system that set rainfall records at Stuttgart, Batesville, Jacksonville and North Little Rock also brought crop-damaging hail and cattle-stressing cold and wet to Arkansas farmers and ranchers.
“The wheat took a beating,” Gus Wilson, Chicot County Extension staff chair, said Tuesday (Feb. 26). “I have never seen it come down so fast. I don’t know yet how much of the wheat was hail-damaged.”
Wilson said he was glad “We did not have a corn crop planted and up” out of the soil. Last year, Chicot County had begun planting corn by Feb. 25.
The National Weather Service at Little Rock reported daily rainfall records at North Little Rock, 1.01 inches; Jacksonville, 1.14 inches; Batesville, 1.62 inches; and Stuttgart, 0.79 inches.
In Monroe County, no longer in drought, the water was still welcome. “I don’t see any damage, but we know where the low spots are now. Things are good and muddy,” said Van Banks, Monroe County Extension staff chair.
Rain was being welcomed in cattle country to reinvigorate drought-stunted winter pastures.
“They are greening up nicely and actually putting on some growth despite the fluctuating temperatures,” said Marion County Extension agent Brian See. “These last few rains are some of the first significant rain events for our area in sometime.
“We didn't catch the hurricane rains like some of central Arkansas did,” he said, referring to Isaac’s northward sweep last August. “Our fall planting suffered greatly because of that. These recent rains give new hope for a green and productive spring.”
Jaret Rushing, Extension agent in Calhoun County, said the rain helped farmers who were adding lime and fertilizer to pastures to help spring grazing annual grasses.
Washington County Extension staff chair Berni Kurz said, “We are loving this winter precipitation. Ponds are beginning to fill up.”
Kurz said the snowfall in the county has been melting slowly, allowing it to “get some soil moisture reserves deep into the ground.”
Despite the closures and road conditions “for the most part, the snow/sleet/hail/rain has been good for us in northwestern Arkansas,” Kurz said.
However, what was good for the grass wasn’t so good for the cattle.
“Cold rain is really causing stress on cattle and newborn calves this time of year,” said Joe Moore, Sharp County Extension staff chair. “Feed supplementation is taking place to overcome poor quality hay that was purchased” during last year’s extensive drought.
Due to the drought, “most pastures that were in cool season perennial will have to undergo re-establishment and seed supplies are very short to undertake this,” he said. “Bermudagrass stand recovery will be taking place this spring.”
For more information about livestock or row crop production, contact your county Extension office, or visit or www.uaex.edu.