Storm winds lodge hay, wheat and bend corn
Two waves of storms that blew through Arkansas on May 21 gave farmers some new headaches.
The storms dumped 2.51 inches of rain at North Little Rock, Ark., breaking the old single-day record of 2.35 inches set in 1980. Stuttgart also saw a new record of 1.65 inches, breaking the old record of 0.95 set in 2001. Winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour were reported in Polk County and Searcy County, according to the National Weather Service.
High winds caused lodging in hay meadows, wheat and cornfields. “Lodging” is when a plant is flattened or leaning at a big angle from its upright position. Lodging causes different problems in each crop. “When hay lodges really bad, what happens is during the mowing process, some of the forage won’t be cut by the mowers because it’s laying too close to the ground,” Rex Herring, Sevier County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said. “You’ll give the field a ‘bad hair cut.’ Most of the hay is recovered, there will just be skipped places throughout the field.”
In northeastern Arkansas, the rain meant more delays for farmers already worried about closing planting windows.
“We just have water everywhere and it has shut down planting for this week and into next,” said Eugene Terhune, Woodruff County Extension staff chair. “My rain gauge at the house had a total of 3 inches for the two rain events.”
Andy Vangilder, Clay County Extension staff chair based at Piggott, said the storms left about 2.5 inches of rain and very strong winds “had some limbs blown off trees and bottom ends of fields are temporarily flooded.
“Some corn was blown over, but doesn’t seem to have been broken, so it should stand back up in time,” he said. “We also had some wheat acres that went down in spots.”
Rice seemed to have weathered the storms.
”The rain seemed to be drawn out enough over time not to result in any real damage from flooding or washouts,” said Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The rain helped with herbicide activation, and while it’s “time for post-emergence herbicide applications, wind is still an issue.”
In far southeastern Arkansas, “we got off easy 1 to 2 inches of rain,” said Chicot County Extension Staff Chair Gus Wilson. “In fact the rain was welcomed by most because we started irrigating corn Monday.”