LITTLE ROCK -- After a very dry May, June started in a more optimistic way: wet.
A week ago, a much anticipated rain never delivered, leaving growers disappointed. However, Storms rumbled through Arkansas on Sunday and Monday bringing rain, but also leaving downed trees and power lines in their wake in Batesville in Independence County and Shirley in Van Buren County.
“It was the first significant rain event we have had in over a month for most of the area. Probably a multi-million dollar rain,” said Wes Kirkpatrick, Desha County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“All of Clay County received at least some rain Sunday evening with most farms ranging between .66 and 1.7 inches but a few fields had over 3 inches,” said Clay County Extension Agent Ron Baker. “The timing has been especially critical as many soybean producers here were facing a real dilemma.”
The majority of irrigated soybean fields in the county are watered using the furrow irrigation method, Baker said.
“This method works quite well once the plants have toughened up a bit but most local soybeans are still too small and much less forgiving right now,” he said. “Large areas of a field could be severely stunted if not destroyed with furrow irrigation at the current stage of growth.”
The other side of the dilemma – the one caused by lack of rain – was even worse, Baker said.
“Farmers were risking even greater crop loss due to moisture depletion in many of those same fields if irrigation continued to be delayed. In addition, planting of remaining fields had basically come to a halt, again due to moisture depletion,” he said. “So producers here are breathing a great sigh of relief. Many are expressing their thanks to the Lord for the blessing of enough rain to move the crop much further toward a safer stage of growth for furrow irrigation plus enough to finish planting most of this year's crop.”
On Monday, rain fell in much of central, northwest and southeast portions of the state.
According to the National Weather Service, Little Rock got .84 inches of rain Monday, and Pine Bluff, Monticello and Stuttgart received .43, .20 and .24 inches, respectively. Blytheville, Mount Ida, and El Dorado, however, saw no rain at all.
Monday's weather system also produced a funnel cloud between Carlisle and Humnoke, in Lonoke County, that touched down briefly and did minor damage.
Only a few areas between Biscoe, Hazen and Stuttgart in Prairie County saw rain Sunday and Monday, the south end of the county had decent precipitation while the north end got none.
“We continue irrigation on corn and rice with soybean starting this week,” said Prairie County Extension Staff Chair Brent Griffin. ”Even where the rain fell, growers are able to get back into the fields to spray beans and replant beans due to the dry weather.”
Robert Seay, Benton County extension staff chair, said that county saw 2 inches of rain scattered over a five-day period, accompanied by a drop in temperature.
“That has elevated the morale of Benton County forage producers,” he said. “The rain and temperature pattern served to allow a 'sponging' effect of the moisture, rather than 'run-off', which makes the potential benefit even more valuable. Fertilizing equipment, which has been parked for weeks, is now on the move as producers weigh prospective hopes against the definite demands for hay and pasture production. In situations where hay was already being fed to livestock, that expense will be set aside as pasture re-growth is triggered.”
Kirkpatrick said producers in that area were buoyed by the rain, too.
“We got a much needed rain this evening,” said je Monday night. Kirkpatrick estimated that there was rainfall of between 0.75 and 1.5 inches in that area.
Still, precipitation is still far below average across Arkansas, at 19.43 inches total so far, compared to the normal 22.44 inches by this time. The chance of rain decreases after Tuesday and the forecast shows dry weather through the weekend and beyond.