Excessive Rainfall Draining Profits From Arkansas Farmers

September 28, 2009

As the rain keeps falling, Arkansas farmers are seeing their chances dwindle for having a profitable harvest.

Agriculture officials said Sept. 24 it would be months before a dollar amount could be affixed to the flooded fields and ruined crops that resulted from the persistent wet weather.

“On the bright side, Arkansas growers that purchased crop insurance are really thankful they made that decision,” said Scott Stiles, a Cooperative Extension Service economist.

The National Weather Service Office at North Little Rock reported that as of Sept. 23, 51.63 inches of rain had fallen in the area so far this year – 16.30 inches more than normal for the time period.

During the same period in 2008, just under 47 inches was recorded. Rain is forecast to continue in parts of the state through the end of the week.

Extension cotton specialist Tom Barber said some farmers have been lucky and most of the rain has missed them. But others watched over the past few weeks while up to a foot of rain fell.

Similar rainfall during planting season in late April caused as much as 70 percent of the cotton crop to go in late. But right now, the cotton that went in on time is showing the most stress.

“This cotton is showing the most damage from the rainfall and high humidity with seeds germinating in the boll and hardlocked bolls,” Barber said. “The damage is greater in this early crop because the bolls were either open or cracking when the majority of the rain hit.”

Barber said many fields will see 30 percent or more yield loss and quality will be affected.

Also, Stiles said many growers won’t have seed to trade.

Ginners normally accepts cottonseed as payment, but Stiles said that with poor quality seed, “the ginners don’t have an asset to pay their bills with.”

Storms that passed through east Arkansas earlier this week did more damage to the $1 billion rice crop.

Don Plunkett, Jefferson County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said the harvest is only 23 percent complete. Normally this time of year, it’s about halfway finished.

“Downed rice is all over the place and there is lots of slow progress in harvesting those fields,” Plunkett said.

Soybean farmers have already had to spray fungicide to combat Asian soybean rust, a disease that can result in total crop loss if it strikes early enough and is left unchecked. The fungus thrives in wet weather and has been spreading in the rain.

“Growers are out of money to spend on insecticides and fungicides unless soybeans are really good and/or the insects or disease are really too much for them to tolerate,” Plunkett said.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.