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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureMay 26, 2017
(611 words)(Download the MS Word version of this story here.)
LITTLE ROCK — East Arkansas growers hoping to take the next step toward coping with
the 2017 growing season — assessing damage and the feasibility of replanting — will
likely have another week’s wait ahead of them at the least, experts with the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service said this
In some of the worst-hit counties suffering the effects of heavy rains and severe
flooding in early and mid-May, including Poinsett, Craighead and Jackson counties,
thousands or tens of thousands of acres of cropland is still submerged under standing
water, even as more than half of it has receded in most areas.
Matthew Davis, agricultural chair for the Jackson County Cooperative Extension Service
office, said that as of earlier this week, about 10,000-15,000 acres of crop land
was either still submerged or so saturated that it would be a losing proposition to
move equipment onto the land.
“Originally, we had about 30,000 acres of submerged cropland,” Davis said. “We’re
still weeks away from being able to get into those fields. Anything in our White River,
Black River basin that originally flooded, I’d say it’s going to be every bit of two
to three weeks before they can get back to plant or even access it, if expected rainfall
The National Weather Service has forecast possible severe thunderstorms for most of
the state during the Memorial Day weekend.
Branon Theisse, staff chair for the Craighead County Cooperative Extension Service
office, said about 5,000 acres of cropland in his county were still submerged this
River levels also remain high, as efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have
scheduled additional releases through the spillway at Table Rock Dam in efforts to
manage high water levels at the lake.
Even when the water does recede, infrastructure damage may provide another hurdle
to overcome. According to data from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation
Department, only two sections of state highways are currently closed — a culvert under
Arkansas 323 near Des Arc and about seven miles of Arkansas 304 near Pocahontas. But
unknown miles of gravel roads, maintained by their respective counties, were washed
out in the flooding.
Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips said he was still in the process of assessing the
total damage to the roads in his county.
“That 10 inches of rain really did a number as far as roads and rice that was planted
before the rain,” Phillips said. Flooding was widespread in the western portion of
the county, he said, where the Black and and White rivers converge. The Cache River,
which runs through the county’s southeastern portion, has also remained high in its
Agronomists with the Division of Agriculture estimate that more than 361,000 acres
of Arkansas crop production have been lost for 2017, more than half of that in rice
Eugene Young, Regional Deputy Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National
Agricultural Statistics Service in Little Rock, said numbers from the USDA’s prospective
planting report in late March won’t be adjusted or republished to account for replanting
or lost crop acreage. Changes in the state’s agricultural outlook will be more likely
reflected in the department’s annual acreage report, scheduled to be published at
the end of June, he said.
In the meantime, Davis said growers in his county were continuing to meet with their
crop insurance agents and explore their post-recovery options. Many growers with cropland
near the confluence of the Black and White rivers also had cropland elsewhere, he
said, providing at least some avenue of relief.
For more information about Arkansas row crops and flood recovery, contact your local
Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org