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By Ryan McGeeneyU of A System Division of AgricultureNov. 13, 2019
(517 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK — After a mild weekend of sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50s,
much of Arkansas found itself dealing with widespread rains and falling mercury throughout
Monday. Tuesday, the state awoke to a morning that declared itself as “winter” in
no uncertain terms.
The National Weather Service described Little Rock’s post-sunrise temperature as “22,
feels like 9” degrees Fahrenheit, something that Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist
for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said isn’t especially
helpful when you’re sitting in the cab of a tractor.
“A grower I know said it best,” Hardke said. “‘If it feels like 9 degrees, it’s 9
degrees to me.’”
With “wind chill” as the go-to caveat to explain the vast difference between the thermometer
reading and the shock of the felt weather across the state, many row crop farmers
could at least find some comfort in the fact that much of the 2019 harvest had already
drawn to a close. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report published Tuesday afternoon
put the state’s rice harvest at 100 percent complete — something of a miracle, considering
the crop has been delayed in one way or another at every turn of 2019.
“There’s no real harm to rice left in the field,” Hardke said, although a complete
shutdown of the biological processes of any unharvested rice would mean the plants
would collapse upon themselves sooner or later.
The USDA report listed the state’s cotton acreage as 91 percent harvested, nearly
on par with the five-year average for this point in the season. Bill Robertson, extension
cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said the cold temperatures wouldn’t
be likely to impact fiber yield or quality, and that this year’s crop has actually
proven remarkably resilient, given the sheer amount of rainfall the state has received
over the course of the season.
“I’m surprised how well the color has stayed so white on the cotton, even with the
rain we have gotten through harvest,” Robertson said.
“The biggest thing with the cold weather is the fact that some type of antifreeze
is needed in the water system on the picker,” he said. “Not a big deal.”
Some of the state’s fruit production may prove vulnerable to the extreme temperatures,
however. Amanda McWhirt, extension fruit and horticulture specialist with the Division
of Agriculture, said that while strawberries and peaches are typically very cold hardy
when fully acclimated and dormant, the timing of the cold snap may prove injurious.
“Unfortunately, neither of these crops are likely in the fully dormant stage or fully
acclimated,” McWhirt said. “Depending on the local temperatures and conditions there
may be some reductions in yield, winter dieback or even plant death.
“The large temperature dive from the weekends temps will likely be a major contributing
factor to damage occurring,” she said. “We will have to wait to see what happens next
spring to know the full extent of what injury, if any, may have occurred.”
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_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 Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services 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: Ryan McGeeneyCommunication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org