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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…

Long-term forecast

March 20, 2013
Image courtesy Cimate Prediction Center.

Image courtesy Cimate Prediction Center.

There’s mixed news from the Climate Prediction Center. Through May, the forecast for Arkansas isn’t exactly drought, but for most of the state, there are equal chances for above, below or normal precipitation. However, pieces of the state surrounding Missouri’s Bootheel have above average chance of getting precip. See the whole forecast and other date ranges at:

Water returning to drought-starved Arkansas River

March 20, 2013

Severe drought was hard on parts of the Arkansas River upstream from Arkansas. Fortunately, some of the water is returning. AP reports from Wichita, Kan.:

Recent snow and rain are bringing much-needed water to the Arkansas River.

The city of Wichita was able to raise the Lincoln Street dam 1 1/2 feet during the weekend. Wichita officials say the dam will slowly be lifted as the river gets more sustained flows.

Scott Lindebak, Wichita’s storm water division manager, says the river’s flow rate increased to 146 cubic feet per second after Saturday’s rain. A month ago, the rate was 45 cubic feet per second. READ MORE … 

Tax implications of drought

March 11, 2013

The April 15 federal income tax filing deadline is just around the corner. Faculty of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have developed a fact sheet on the tax implications of drought for those who sold livestock in 2012. Please note the fact sheet is not a substitute for advice from your CPA.  The fact sheet is posted at:

8-8 Show cattle