HARRISON, Ark. – With rain in Thursday’s forecast, Arkansas livestock and crop producers struggling with dying pastures and powder-dry fields are hoping for the best, but are prepared for the worst.
“I have lived in North Arkansas for 26 years and it’s never looked more bleak. Even the bermuda lawns are all turning yellow and brown,” said Mike McClintock, Boone County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It’s great, if you are an iguana or horned toad.”
McClintock said his office was receiving calls daily from cattle producers seeking hay as pastures wither. “With each bite of grass, nothing is growing back,” he said. “The predicted 1.5 inches will not nearly be enough.”
The National Weather Service at Little Rock was forecasting a 50 percent chance of rain Wednesday night and an 80 percent Thursday. Rainfall amounts were expected to range from 1 to 2 inches in western Arkansas, with some amounts possibly up to 2.5 inches. Elsewhere, totals of .5 to .75 of an inch would be more common.
The outlook for the Delta wasn’t so promising.
“The trends that I am seeing suggest that some folks will be disappointed with the amounts they get, especially in the eastern half of the state, said John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Little Rock. “It is possible that some spots may be missed altogether.”
Farmers who want to plant soybeans following the winter wheat harvest are finding the soil too dry. Some farmers were rolling out extra polypipe tubing -- that works like a big soaker hose -- to irrigate dry areas, others were getting ready to turn on their irrigation pivots.
Some rain and hail was falling early Wednesday afternoon when a line of strong storms developed over the Delta.
“We have gotten a little and looking for more a bunch more,” said Keith Perkins, Lonoke County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “My Dad would say: ‘some is good, more is better, and just the right amount is needed, but we will take all that we can get’.”
Until that next rain falls, “Over here they are doing one thing: They are filling the diesel tanks so they can pump more water out of the ground,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips and Lee county extension agent.