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After the ice storm

December 5, 2013
Winter damaged tree.

Winter damaged tree.

LITTLE ROCK – With the potential for a significant layer of ice this weekend, homeowners need to be examining their properties carefully to help prevent damage from falling trees or limbs, said Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Research Center and an extension forester for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

The state’s major snowstorm last Christmas may also have caused hidden damage, bending or breaking the wood fiber under the bark, but not enough to prevent the branch from continuing to grow.

“The damage is still there and the extra weight of ice or snow can cause the total failure of the branch,” she said. “One way to tell is see if the branch is it bending more than it should, or if it appears to be pointing more toward the ground than other branches.

“If one of these branches is over someone’s home and it’s small enough for them to prune or remove safely, the homeowner might consider doing so to halt the chance of any damage,” Walkingstick said. READ MORE

Rain floods fields, prompts highway closure

May 3, 2013

NW Arkansas’s snow may be higher profile, but water is shaping its own drama in the Arkansas Delta. As Extension Rice Agronomist Jarrod Hardke said, “Last year it was a desert, and this year, you need a boat.”

Rising water in eastern Arkansas on Friday prompted flood warnings, a highway closure and submerged corn, rice and soybeans in two counties.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department closed a section of Arkansas 226 in Craighead County on Friday afternoon due to high water.

The National Weather Service at Memphis, Tenn., issued a flood warning for the St. Francis River at Lake City, east of Jonesboro. A flood watch was posted much of eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, southeastern Missouri and western Tennessee until 7 p.m. Friday. 

In Phillips County, 4-5 inches fell in the last 24 hours, said Robert Goodson, county extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“We will have standing water in low areas,” he said. Corn and soybeans were submerged Friday afternoon – “the tallest corn was in the 6-8 inch range, with soybeans just a couple of inches tall and maybe one leaf at best.”

Read more…

One year later, outlook is brighter

May 3, 2013

KARK-TV’s Josh Berry visited Pope County, Ark., a place that had become the face of severe drought for much of the world’s media last year. A year later, a cool, wet spring, has returned hope to the area’s cattle industry. See the story at:


It’s May. It’s Arkansas. It’s snowing.

May 3, 2013

Though some folks remember flakes falling in Fayetteville, Plumerville and Eros, Ark., in May 1980, there’s no official National Weather Service record of it. Today’s snow is a record. Arkansas has never seen snow in May. (At least since the NWS has been keeping records.)

Statue of Ark Razorback with snow on it in May.

SNOW HOG — Razorback statue decked in snow the morning of Friday, May 3, 2013, in Madison County, Arkansas. . It’s the first recorded May snow in Arkansas. (U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture photo by Darrin Henderson)

Garden covered in snow. In May.

SPRING GARDEN — Washington County, Ark., Extension Agent Jane Maginot awoke to see snow covering her vegetable garden on May 3, 2013. It’s the first recorded May snow in Arkansas. (U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture photo by Jane Maginot)

Drought continues its retreat

May 2, 2013
Map showing droughted areas in Arkansas.

U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday, May 2.

Drought continues to recede in Arkansas as the moderate drought designation drops completely from counties north of the Arkansas River. Spots of moderate drought are stubbornly clinging to areas in the southwestern part of the state.

The good news, according to the Climate Prediction Center, is that SW Arkansas is projected to see much improvement through the end of July. See today’s outlook at:

Meanwhile, some folks in northwest Arkansas will be scanning the May skies for snowflakes.


Drought in Pope Co. – then and now

May 1, 2013

7-19 HectorArk-2
Pope County Extension Staff Chair Phil Sims took KTHV’s Sarah Fortner on a visit to some of the places most hard-hit by last year’s drought. One of them was a bermudagrass pasture in Hector, Ark., that exceptional drought had turned into a moonscape:

See the story at:

Why are my trees dying?

May 1, 2013
Ips beetle

Ips engraver beetles are common pests of pines in Arkansas. (Image courtesy William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International,

Dr. Jon Barry, extension forester for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, on trees and drought.

Drought has been a hot topic for the last several years in Arkansas. County agents and extension foresters have received numerous phone calls about lawn trees dying due to insect and disease problems. Almost all of these problems trace back to one simple factor – drought.  Drought places trees under stress which may kill trees or may make trees more susceptible to insects and diseases.

A return to normal rainfall might lead landowners to conclude that trees should recover from drought and that they should expect to no longer see trees dying.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Once a tree has been severely stressed by drought it may not fully recover for several years.  If it is infested by insects or infected with a disease, it often will die sooner or later.  It’s that “later” part that gives many people a false hope that their trees will survive.

Severe drought greatly reduces photosynthesis in trees because they must conserve water to survive.  Without photosynthesis, trees don’t build adequate energy reserves to fully leaf out the following spring.  Our native trees are tough and can handle drought.  However, prolonged drought will deplete a tree’s energy reserves so severely that the tree may take several years to rebuild those reserves and fully leaf out again.

Hypoxylon canker in oaks has been one of the most common problems encountered in Arkansas’ trees through the last few years.  The fungus that causes hypoxylon is native to Arkansas and is always present at low levels in our forests.  If you have seen oaks with the bark flaking off to reveal a blue-gray surface, you have seen hypoxylon canker.  Even though hypoxylon is common, it is a weak pathogen that normally does not invade healthy trees.  However, when a tree is placed under stress by drought, the hypoxylon fungus can colonize the tree.  Once this happens, the tree will die within a few years.  That delayed death gives landowners the false hope.  There is no cure for the disease.  Even after a drought ends, trees infected by the hypoxylon fungus during the drought will continue to die for several years.

Hypoxolon canker on oak.

Hypoxylon canker on an oak. (Image courtesy Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service,

Read more…


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