Rice harvest in Arkansas accelerated last week, spurred by the approach of Tropical Storm Gordon’s remnants, and this week, farmers are hoping for dry weather to get cotton bolls open and combines into the soybean fields.


“Rice harvest progress jumped from 20 percent to 33 percent last week with only a few days of real harvest opportunity,” Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Tuesday. (See crop progress report: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Arkansas/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/index.php )


“Progress was mixed as south of I-40 rain stopped everyone on Wednesday, but scattered showers across the north allowed some to keep going through Friday,” he said. “The continued overcast weather is concerning, but the wind is helping to dry things out.”


Hardke said he hadn’t received any reports of rice sprouting in the field, “but that may change as downed rice waits to be harvested. With the cooler temperatures and a slight breeze, many growers were back in the fields yesterday and today ‘mudding’ the crop out.”


The continued moisture is a concern for the state’s cotton growers.


“We just need sunshine and dry weather,” said Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Boll rot is moving up the plant. We are losing ground now, trading our bottom crop for the top crop.”


Robertson said he was surprised to find growers south of McGehee in sodden southeastern Arkansas, applying harvest aids. Further north, “in areas where up to 3 inches were received like Forrest City, they hope to get ground rigs in field on Wednesday or Thursday.”


According to Tuesday’s Crop Report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state’s cotton harvest has not yet begun.


Soybean harvest is just getting started, Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the Division of Agriculture said.


He’d gotten “some calls on splitting pods with sprouting seed, but it’s a very low percentage in fields affected,” Ross said. “Just need some dry weather to continue harvesting. Another two weeks and we will be rolling.”


Robert Goodson, a Phillips County extension agent for the Division of Agriculture, said his county saw between 2 to 3.5 inches from Gordon with some rice downed and soy and corn harvest delayed by cool, wet weather and some worry about boll rot in cotton.


For more information on crop production, contact a county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


— Mary Hightower is director of Communication Services at the U of A System Division of Agriculture.