Storm System Rolls Through Region

Friday, May 31, 2013
Strong winds and heavy rain rolled across the region last Tuesday, causing widespread damage to trees, limbs and some crops. This damage was at the Royce and Patty Midkiff residence on the south edge of St. Francis, and was photographed by their daughter, Emily. (courtesy photo)

The two waves of storms which blew through Arkansas last Tuesday gave farmers some new headaches.

The storms dumped 2.51 inches of rain at North Little Rock, breaking the old single-day record of 2.35 inches set in 1980. Stuttgart also saw a new record of 1.65 inches, breaking the old record of 0.95 set in 2001. Winds of 50 to 60 m.p.h. were reported in Polk County and Searcy County, according to the National Weather Service.

High winds also caused lodging in hay meadows, wheat and cornfields. "Lodging" is when a plant is flattened or leaning at a big angle from its upright position. For the producer, lodging causes different problems in each crop.

"When hay lodges really bad, what happens is during the mowing process, some of the forage won't be cut by the mowers because it's laying too close to the ground," Rex Herring, Sevier County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Wednesday. "You'll give the field a 'bad haircut.' Most of the hay is recovered, there will just be skipped places throughout the field."

Here in northeastern Arkansas, the rain meant more delays for farmers already worried about closing planting windows.

"We just have water everywhere and it has shut down planting for this week and into next," said Eugene Terhune, Woodruff County extension staff chair. "My rain gauge at the house had a total of three inches for the two rain events."

Andy Vangilder, Clay County extension staff chair based at Piggott, said last week the storms left about 2.5 inches of rain and very strong winds, and as he described it the county "had some limbs blown off trees and bottom ends of fields are temporarily flooded."

Vangilder also noted the rain and wind affected row crops as well,

"some corn was blown over, but doesn't seem to have been broken, so it should stand back up in time," he said. "We also had some wheat acres that went down in spots."

According to Vangilder, rice seemed to have weathered the storms.

"The rain seemed to be drawn out enough over time not to result in any real damage from flooding or washouts," said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The rain helped with herbicide activation, and while it's "time for post-emergence herbicide applications, wind is still an issue."

Those wanting more information about crop production may visit www.uaex.edu, http://arkansascrops.com, or contact their county extension agent.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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