wheat head

Heavy rains delay start of winter wheat harvest in Arkansas

Other agricultural damage reported, including burst rice levees

Heavy rains throughout northeast Arkansas have delayed the start of the state’s winter wheat harvest, and wreaked a degree of havoc among other crops throughout the area, Cooperative Extension Service agents said Tuesday (May 31).

Jason Kelley, Extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said much of the wheat in the state is ready to harvest, but ongoing wet weather has delayed the start of harvest.

“Typically, wheat harvest will begin at the end of May in southern Arkansas and proceed north,” Kelley said. “But with the current weather forecast it looks like it will likely be next week before any wheat is harvested.”

Rains after maturity can reduce overall grain quality, lowering the price producers can sell their grain for, Kelley said.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report published Tuesday, 96 percent of the state’s winter wheat is coloring, well ahead of this time last year, when only 79 percent of the crop was ready for harvest.

Throughout the area, Division of Agriculture agents reported notable rain and hail damage to crops.

In Greene County, staff chair Allen Davis told the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service that steady rains that began last Tuesday had slowed crop development.

“There are some soybeans in low-lying area that will probably need replanting,” Davis said. “And some rice near the Cass or Saint Francis rivers may lose some yield potential.”

In Craighead County, Cooperative Extension Service staff chair Branon Thiesse said rains had caused flooded fields in all crops.

“Rice levees [have] washed away,” Thiesse said. He said crops in part of the county had suffered hail damage, and that total damage and losses were still being assessed.

“We had pea size hail, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you have 80-mile-an-hour winds, it can do some damage,” he said. "We had stuff go under water. it’s just a mess,” he said.

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