Mississippi River flooding

Rising Mississippi River could put riverside crops underwater

Mississippi River level rises after major rains. Riverside cropland could be wet through mid-July.

With a rise in the river level, crops planted inside the Mississippi River levee may be in jeopardy.

“There’s a bump of water coming down the Mississippi River,” says Jim Pogue, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis. “Some of the land that’s unprotected inside the levees will see quite a bit of water. We’re not actually looking at a flood fight or anything like that but the river will be out of the banks in some areas.

“Farmers with land planted between the levee and the river could have some problems. It’s very unfortunate for them and their crops. Hopefully, the impacts will be as minimal as possible. Of course, days of water on top of the crop is never a good thing.”

Pogue, having just spoken with the emergency management chief, says the prediction is “some of the riverside farmland may get as much as two feet of water. Some of that land isn’t expected to be dry until mid-July or even later.”

The river is expected to crest in Memphis on July 8 at 30.5 feet. Helena, Ark., is forecast to crest on July 10 at 39 feet. Greenville, Miss., will see the crest on July 13 at 48.5 feet. 

The rise is due to an unusually large amount of rain up north in the Ohio River Valley over the last few days. “It’s odd to see the river coming up at this time of year. Normally, by now, we’ve moved into the low-water season.”

The river rise comes following a record wet May in the lower 48 states and recent rains from Tropical Storm Bill. The Mississippi River watershed is responsible for draining some 40 percent of U.S. land.

Pogue says the rise shouldn’t bother barge traffic at all.

“Producers should know we’re constantly monitoring the situation, working with the National Weather Service. The safety of life and property is always our chief concern and if there’s any changes on the river we’ll let everyone know right away.”

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