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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.”

“How long the water stays on will determine whether they survive,” Goodson said.

“This rain has the potential to change the crop mixture in this county,” he said. “Instead of planting corn or maybe sorghum, we are probably going to end up with more acres of soybeans than we originally thought.”

Fields were so wet, “one of my rice farmers was planning to fly seed in instead of drilling,” Goodson said.

“We got 2-3 inches overnight,” said Branon Thiesse, Craighead County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “I had 1.5 inches at my house this morning and it hasn’t stopped raining yet.”

“There are cornfields that are under water,” he said. “There’s also some rice that’s going under, but with everything being cooler, it should be OK if it doesn’t stay under very long.”

The up side is that the rain has fallen in a slow and steady tempo. “If it had come all at once, it would’ve been worse. You get all those flash floods.”

For more information about crops visit, or contact your county extension office.

For information about post-flood safety see: Keeping food and water safe during power outages and floods,”

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


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