Rain is needed on state farms

The rain that fell the last weekend in July was helpful, but more rain would go a long way to reviving the pastures and helping the soybeans to fill in the pods and the rice to fill in the ears.


Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture has made Arkansas farmers and ranchers in 20 counties and 11 neighboring counties eligible for emergency loans under a declaration of drought. The deadline for applying for loans is December 8. Details are available at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/emergency-farm-loans/index.

The main eligible counties are Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Hempstead, Lafayette, Lincoln, Little River, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Sevier and Union.

Producers in contiguous counties are also eligible for loans. These counties are Grant, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Lonoke, Monroe, Montgomery, Phillips, Pike, Polk, and Prairie.


Farm irrigation equipment finally rested as widespread rain fell in Arkansas, bringing some relief after weeks of triple-digit highs and intensifying drought.

“It was the million dollar rain – you always hear farmers talk about that million dollar rain. I think that was it for some parts of the state,” said Jeremy Ross, soybean extension agronomist for the system division of the University of Arkansas. Agriculture. “That will help us out.”

A National Weather Service estimated rainfall map for Little Rock from July 28 to 31 showed much of Arkansas north of Interstate 40 received 2 to 5 inches, as did the southern third of the State. Rainfall in central and parts of southwestern Arkansas remained below 2 inches.

The good news for farmers is that the National Weather Service predicts an additional 40% chance of thunderstorms through August 5.


“Overall, it was great rain for the majority,” said Jarrod Hardke, rice extension agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Two to three inches was probably the most common average – which would have been perfect for many to bring the paddies to full flood and replace an irrigation event for other crops.”

Hardke said those with the ability to harvest and store runoff were rewarded with water they could use later.

The rain allowed growers to shut down irrigation and perform any necessary maintenance on motorized equipment which likely saw only minimal service “as growers could not afford to shut down the pumps. for a long time in the last two months,” he said.


Ross said that 85% of Arkansas’ soybeans are irrigated and the lack of rain has made things more difficult, “temperatures have been the most damaging. High temperatures have caused stunted growth and development. J I’ve talked to growers and consultants who said their beans got to this stage and got stuck there, not moving on to the next stage of growth.

“We get to that critical stage, getting pods and filling those pods and it’s highly dependent on moisture and nutrient availability,” he said.

“It looks like the chance of rain will be better than it has been for the past two months,” Ross said.


“I learned never to turn down a rain,” Bill Robertson, a cotton extension agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture System, said Aug. 1.

For cotton growers, “we have enough season left to still be able to handle most of the problems that will come from rain and prolonged cloudy conditions,” Robertson said. “Overall, the pros far outweigh the cons.”


Jason Kelley, a wheat and feed grain extension agronomist, said the rain was a must for the state’s corn harvest.

“We had a lot of maize planted early that was at or near the end of the irrigation, so the rain gave some guesswork if the maize needed another irrigation,” he said. . “Our maize planted later will really benefit from this rain as some fields still have a way to go to reach maturity.


“This rain has had a major impact on this area,” said Jesse Taylor, chairman of Johnson County Extension Staff for the Division of Agriculture. “Several parts of the county had been under an inch for over seven weeks, so it was pretty dry.”

Taylor said many in the county reported receiving 2 inches in the past week “and our fields are responding very well.”

“I still think we’re going to be looking at some hay shortages this winter, but there’s enough season left that if we continue to have moisture we can gain some ground before winter sets in,” he said. Taylor said. “I expect to see more winter annuals planted than usual to make up for some of our hay shortages.”

Zach Gardner, Faulkner County Extension Officer, said some of his ranchers are “talking about planting summer annuals to extend the grazing season; and some planted winter annuals for fall, winter, and early spring grazing. If we get some more rain, it will be very beneficial for those.”

John Jennings, professor and extension forage specialist, said “this rain has put all forage options back on the table for late summer and fall pastures” including stocked bermuda and fescue, fertilizing Bermudas for another cut of hay, planting summer annuals for fall grazing and planting winter annuals for fall/winter grazing.”

Jennings said many pastures that have been browned “will need the rest of the summer to recover. But those that were still green should rebound quickly and produce fodder within weeks.


There were hot spots in Arkansas that received over 5 inches of rain. The community of Alicia in Lawrence County reported 10.45 inches of rain. Corning reported 5.72 inches and Jonesboro 4.89 inches.

Speaking from Jonesboro, extension economist Scott Stiles said the rain was enough to overturn the county’s burning ban. As of last week, 72 of the state’s 75 counties had imposed a burning ban. By the end of the day on August 2, 35 counties had dropped their burning bans.

However, there was not enough moisture to keep the July precipitation totals from being below normal. The National Weather Service tweeted out a graphic showing what it called “very preliminary and very unofficial numbers” from several of its weather stations. It showed North Little Rock at 2.38 inches less than normal rain for the month and Pine Bluff at 2.65 inches less than normal. Little Rock and Harrison fared a bit better, with Little Rock 0.77 inches short of standard and Harrison only 0.14 short of normal.

The good news is that “we have a better chance of rain (August 4-5) and milder temperatures in the near term,” Stiles said.

To learn more about the Agriculture Division’s research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website, https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow the agency on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch.

Mary Hightower is with the Division of Agriculture System at the University of Arkansas.

About Marco C. Nichols

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