BOONEVILLE, Ark. – Rain that began falling last Thursday and continued into Monday was giving hope to ranchers with drought-battered pastures and a window of opportunity for grass-eating fall armyworms and mosquitoes, extension agents for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said.

Late summer is a transitional time for cattle producers who would normally be seeing the last of their warm season bermudagrass and be planting seed for their cool-season winter forages as fall rain returns. 

Over the weekend, Logan County in western Arkansas received 1.5 to 3 inches of rain.

“The rain is providing some hope and much-needed water on newly planted winter pastures,” said Lance Kirkpatrick, interim extension staff chair for Logan County.”

Little River County in the southwestern corner saw .25 to 1 inch, and every little bit will help, said Joe Paul Stuart, the county’s extension staff chair.

“It will help pastures and winter annuals,” he said, and “row crop producers will start planting winter wheat.”

However, the recent rain has brought another problem: insect pests. The new green appearing in lawns, pastures and hay meadows is a magnet for fall armyworms.

“Grass is growing and armyworms are eating it all over the county,” said Carla Vaught, Polk County extension staff chair. “Our lawn here at the office is covered with fall army worm.”

The watery weather may also turn Arkansas’ hunters into the hunted – if they don’t wear their insect repellent.

“Creeks are full again but with warmer temperatures in the distant forecast, it could be devastating for deer hunters because of mosquito problems,” said Jaret Rushing, Calhoun County extension agent for the U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “I hunted this weekend and, without my mosquito repellent, I wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes. The mosquitoes are out in full force, that's for sure.”

Jackson County Extension Staff Chair Randy Chlapecka said: “It's just added to the already slow rice harvest.  There hasn't been a combine in the field since Friday.  

“Luckily, we didn't get any real heavy rain or wind,” he said. “We're about 60 percent harvested on rice, and back in August I thought we would have been about 95 percent finished by mid-September.”

“This wet fall is made for a slower harvests than normal,” said Keith Perkins, Lonoke County extension agent. “We were off to good start everything was dry until Isaac, and now harvest will be muddy, and slower because of the mud.

“In some places rice is laying on the ground,” flattened by Isaac and other storms, he said. “The worst case scenario is, if it lays on the ground and gets water above the grain, that can lead to sprouting of the grain.

“We need a little sunshine and wind,” Perkins said.

Rice growers may get their wish. According to the National Weather Service at Little Rock, the sun should return Tuesday, right through Friday.

More rain won’t be unwelcome though.

“We will need a lot more rain to replenish our deficits over here,” said Phillips County Extension Staff Chair Shawn Payne.