Arkansas row crop farmers who awoke Sunday to lakes where their newly planted fields had been will be enduring a nail-biting week to see how fast the water recedes, and how much new rain might fall Wednesday, all the while bracing for the avalanche of water heading toward the Gulf of Mexico from parts north.
The storms are blamed for six deaths in the state. On Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared a state of emergency for Arkansas.
The flooding closed roads across central Arkansas with Hwy. 67/167 between Jacksonville and Cabot and then again north of Cabot, closed on Sunday afternoon snarling traffic. Other state highways were closed as well,.
During the weekend, extension agents and faculty with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture used social media to show the power of the Friday-Sunday storm system. There were full rain gauges, highways that looked like muddy rivers and fields whose fledgling crops were buried by water.
The National Weather Service at Little Rock reported that 24-hour totals through 7 a.m. Sunday included “a whopping 8.50 inches at Savoy (Washington County), 7.85 inches at Guy (Faulkner County), and 7.82 inches at Georgetown (White County).”
More rain is expected Wednesday and Thursday, with amounts ranging from .5 to 1.5 inches, the weather service said Sunday night.
“Typically, most crops can handle 12 to 24 hours of standing water,” said Keith Perkins, Lonoke County extension staff chair for the Division of Agriculture. “However, I am not sure how long water is going to stand on some fields. All we can do is evaluate the stands once the water recedes.
Perkins said farmers “shouldn’t be in a hurry to make any rash decisions. We are still early enough to replant and not suffer any yield loss on replants.”
Mary Hightower writes for the U of A System Division of Agriculture