Arkansas is completely covered by drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

The largest increase was in area covered by extreme drought, the second-most severe category. Extreme drought jumped from .21 percent of the state to nearly a third of Arkansas, 31.7 percent.

Extreme drought areas encompassed all or parts of:

  • Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Clay. Craighead, Fulton, Greene, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Marion, Newton, Poinsett, Randolph, Sharp and Woodruff counties in north and northeastern Arkansas.
  • Conway, Faulkner, Franklin, Johnson, Perry, Pope and Yell counties in the Arkansas River Valley.
  • Clark, Hempstead, Howard, Little River, Miller, Nevada, and Pike counties in southwest Arkansas.
  • Bradley, Calhoun and Union counties in southern Arkansas. 

Most of the rest of the state is severe, followed by moderate, with a small sliver of eastern Phillips, Desha and Chicot counties being abnormally dry, the least severe of the drought ratings.

The forecast wasn’t very promising. The National Weather Service said in a special weather statement that no rain was expected through the first days of July. The rainlessness was exacerbated by high temperatures on Thursday.

Thermometers hit the century mark in Little Rock by early Thursday afternoon and had already broken the record of 101 degrees with a 102-degree reading at 1:23 p.m. at North Little Rock.

“I have a peach guy here who called me this morning to say, ‘my peaches are blistering on the tree’,” said Phil Sims, Pope County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture “And he’s got irrigation under them. He takes good care of them.”

In Clay County, Extension Staff Chair Andy Vangilder said producers there were “fighting as much as they can with water.”

Many producers are comparing 2012 to the drought of 1980.  “Compared to 1980, we were 80 percent dryland and 20 percent irrigated,” Vangilder said. “At least now, the majority of our acreage, we can keep watered.”

The wildlife danger is high in all 75 Arkansas counties, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission. All of the state’s counties were under burn bans except Calhoun, Bradley, Desha, Drew, Little River, Miller, Phillips and Sevier counties.

For more information about drought management, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.

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.