Eastern Arkansas may become as dry as the southern part of the state, if high pressure remains parked over the southeastern United States.
“Through the middle of the month, some areas from Texarkana to Little Rock had more than double the normal rainfall,” according to the National Weather Service. “Elsewhere, June totals were 25 to 75 percent of normal, and less than 25 percent in parts of the east.
“If current trends continue, drought conditions may expand from southern into portions of eastern Arkansas.”
The large, persistent high has helped tie or break records. On June 21, Little Rock’s high of 99 broke the record of 98 and the June 20 high of 99 at Monticello tied the record set in 1953. Also on June 20, at Little Rock, the low of 79 was the highest on record, breaking the old record set in 1998.
“The Newport area is close to normal on rainfall so far, but the further east you go from there, the rainfall amounts begin to taper,” said Scott Stiles, Extension economist-risk management for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Jonesboro, Keiser and Blytheville are all below normal.”
Brent Griffin, Prairie County Extension Staff Chair, said that as of June 16, some growers had already irrigated soybeans twice.
Rice growers have more to worry about, too. Rice is a crop that spends an important part of its life in water-filled paddies.
“More than 65 percent of our rice is at joint movement or beyond, with maximum uptake of water to produce and push out the grain head,” Griffin said. “Many growers are actually losing ground due to heat and plant transpiration.
Sorghum is in the same situation as rice, he said, adding “A rain within the next four to seven days will make a difference between harvesting or cutting for silage.”
Growers on the Grand Prairie are also watching their surface water disappear.
“Amazing how we are always 10 days from a drought,” Griffin said. “The last good general rain was May 21.”
Cotton copes better with higher temperatures than soybeans, Stiles said, but even cotton needs water.
In neighboring Lonoke County, Extension agent Keith Perkins said the lack of water brought some planting to a halt.
“A few fields are being watered pre-planting,” he said.
In Phillips County, growers are irrigating, but are in a little easier position than growers that rely on the Alluvial Aquifer.
“Irrigation is necessary for the success for crops here in Phillips County,” Goodson said.
“Our water comes from the Mississippi River Aquifer,” he said. “In 2008 and 2009, the aquifer was drawn down about 8 feet and measurements this spring showed it back up to normal. If it stays dry I am sure it will be drawn down this summer though.”
“As always, growers will simply manage according to their circumstances,” Stiles said. “No doubt, the current weather situation is adding expense to this year’s crop.”
For more information on irrigation, contact your county Extension office, or visit http://www.aragriculture.org/.