Crops are looking good in Lincoln County, Ark., but growers sure could use a little rain.
“Overall, it’s the best start we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Chad Norton, Lincoln County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. However, “we are very much in need of a rain.”
A few showers popped up Wednesday afternoon, but “not enough to make a difference,” he said. “We need a soaker.”
Lincoln County is not alone. Between Jan. 1 and May 31, Texarkana, El Dorado and Pine Bluff all reported rainfall well below normal, according to the National Weather Service. Texarkana was down 7.4 inches, 61 percent less than normal. El Dorado was down 8.04 inches, 67 percent below normal. Pine Buff was down 8.33 inches, which is 64 percent below normal.
A large area of high pressure over the southeastern United States was expected to last into the middle of this month, bringing higher-than-normal temperatures to Arkansas.
“There will be breaks at times, with clouds and chances for rain,” the weather service said. “Given the pattern, the drought in the south will likely persist and could possibly expand.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor, shows moderate drought extending across all of Columbia, Union, Ashley and Chicot counties; most of Miller, Bradley and Drew counties; and parts of Nevada, Ouachita, Calhoun and Desha counties.
Abnormally dry areas are just north, with the northern boundary roughly extending from Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Scott County to Helena-West Helena in Phillips County.
Chris Buonanno, science officer for the National Weather Service at North Little Rock, said there were a variety of factors for the wet north and dry south.
“This time of year, going into the late spring and early summer, the precipitation systems are smaller in scale and there’s a lot of hit-and-miss precipitation,” he said Thursday. “The systems may produce heavy rain in one area and one county over, none.”
Meteorologists were keeping an eye on a system that was over northeastern Texas on Thursday morning.
“It’s a small upper-level low that’s producing a lot of rain,” Buonanno said. “We’ll see how close it will get — there may be some short-term relief” for southern Arkansas.
“One round of precipitation is not going to solve the problem immediately,” he said. “It will take a number of systems to catch up.”
Still, any rain is welcome.
Chicot County benefited from Wednesday’s showers to the tune of 1 to 2 inches, said Gus Wilson, county Extension staff chair. “The rain was a blessing.”
For information on drought conditions in Arkansas, visit http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/?n=rain2010.htm.
For information on irrigation and crop production, visit www.uaex.edu.