Farmers worry over newly planted corn as rain continues to fall
LEWISVILLE, Ark. – Six inches of rain have made a change in the landscape along the Red River in southwest Arkansas.
“The farmland along the river bottoms, a lot of it looks like lakes,” Joe Vestal, Lafayette County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Wednesday morning. “It’ll take awhile to get it off the fields,” and that’s where the worry lies.
Vestal said the Red River will also be taking all the water that northeast Texas and southwest Oklahoma have received with this storm, slowing drainage. Most of the county’s bottoms are planted with corn. In 2011, 12,900 acres of corn were planted in Lafayette County.
“The corn is freshly planted. If the water stands on it, it might not come up,” Vestal said, adding that tight corn seed supplies may make replanting difficult.
“We’ll survive,” he said. “Farmers are a resilient bunch. If not, they’d be out of business a long time ago.”
Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains specialist for the Division of Agriculture, did offer some reassurance for corn growers.
Most of the early planted “corn came up good even after the 2-4 inch rain we got 10 days ago and current weather models show less rain in the Delta than what we have gotten in western and central Arkansas,” Kelley said.
Both Vestal and Kelley had some worries for wheat, where growers had just applied fertilizer.
“An inch of rain would have been fine, however we don't need the 6 inches of rain that has fallen or is forecast to fall in some areas,” Kelley said.
The other concern is stripe rust, which has been reported in 20 counties in the Delta and Arkansas River.
“The cooler wet weather will helpful for the stripe rust to get going again,” he said. “The recent 80-degree temperatures for highs and 60s at night had slowed the stripe rust down.”
Flash flood warnings were set to expire Wednesday morning, but a flash flood watch was to be in effect into the evening for Bradley, Cleveland, Drew, Faulkner, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pulaski and Saline counties.
The National Weather Service said that as of 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, Norfork and Mountain Home both reported more than 6 inches of rain.
Rainfall totals exceeding 4 inches were reported at Camden in Ouachita County, Clarkridge in Baxter County, Calico Rock in Izard County, near Conway in Faulkner County, Damascus in Van Buren, near Fordyce in Dallas County and Moro Bay in Bradley County. One-inch hail was reported in Grant County.