People in agriculture were trying to keep their sense of humor intact Thursday afternoon after their hopes for rain were dashed by a weather system that seemed to be more generous east of the Mississippi. County extension agents across the state said they received varying totals, mostly from zero to a half-inch.

People in agriculture were trying to keep their sense of humor intact Thursday afternoon after their hopes for rain were dashed by a weather system that seemed to be more generous east of the Mississippi. County extension agents across the state said they received varying totals, mostly from zero to a half-inch.

“It rained 0.4 in Helena on the asphalt. I can really grow a parking lot now,” said Robert Goodson, Phillips and Lee county extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Many row crop producers hoping to grow more than that were filling their well pumps with fuel and rolling out polypipe to carry water into the fields in case the storm system didn’t bring as much water as they needed. Pop-up thunderstorms on Wednesday peppered the Delta with pea-sized hail and a small amount of water.

In Jackson County, Extension Staff Chair Randy Chlapecka said Thursday’s clouds brought spotty showers, but “some areas got lucky Wednesday.”

“We got around an inch in an area around Newport and also in the northern part of the county. Some are still waiting on moisture to finish planting soybeans, however,” Chlapecka said.

Prairie County had some rain in spots on Wednesday.

“We had about three-quarters of an inch of hail in about five minutes,” said Brent Griffin, Prairie County extension staff chair. “The hail was pea-sized and very short lived.”

The better news was the rain.

“We have .75 to 1 inch in gauges according to a quick survey,” he said. “The rain came fast and in sheets, but actually did soak up.”

Griffin said the amount does help and will enable farmers to get soybeans planted behind wheat and help rice farmers flood fields.

Earlier this week, Arkansas livestock and crop producers struggling with dying pastures and powder-dry fields said they were hoping for the best from the rainfall, but are prepared for the worst.

Farmers who want to plant soybeans following the winter wheat harvest found the soil too dry. Some farmers were rolling out extra polypipe tubing — that works like a big soaker hose — to irrigate dry areas, others were getting ready to turn on their irrigation pivots. Some rain and hail was falling early Wednesday afternoon when a line of storms developed over the Delta.

“Any stress on the plants can cause the plants to move an alkaloid called cucurbitin into the fruit,” said Les Walz, Cleveland County extension staff chair for the U of A Division of Agriculture. “Cucurbitin is produced naturally in curcurbits but is usually confined to the foliage and stems. Stresses associated with high temperatures, uneven watering, disease, or low fertility could cause cucumbers to be bitter.”

In southwest Arkansas, so hard-hit in 2011, the few scattered showers that fell in the last few weeks were helpful.

“Some areas still look pretty good, but others are starting to show signs of drought,” said Joe Paul Stuart, Little River County extension staff chair. “We had an abundance of ryegrass and clovers early, but they’re gone and warm season grasses are very thin. If the dry weather pattern continues, we will be in trouble soon,” he said.

The dry weather has been a benefit for fruit growers who are able to irrigate.

“Our largest blueberry grower said that the lack of rain has benefited him this spring because he has not had any soft berries,” he said.

“Our strawberry producers report the same, no fruit loss. However, extension agents in several counties are reporting that ponds that supply irrigation are drying up.

For more information about crop or livestock production, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas 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.

Mary Hightower is assistant director of communications/marketing at the Cooperative Extension Service,

part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.