Soil and water

Dry soil benefits Arkansas crops

Recent rainfall in the south is improving topsoil moisture levels slightly, but Arkansas is still relatively dry, and that’s not a bad thing during harvest season.

It’s time for farmers in Arkansas to start harvesting some crops and they need dry conditions or it could delay the process, said Mike Daniels, a scientist with the Conservancy’s Agricultural Extension System Division. Soils and Water from the University of Arkansas.

“It’s a tough time of year, rainfall-wise,” Daniels said.

“We are actively cutting corn, soybeans, rice, and you want dry conditions for harvesting. You don’t want to rut your fields. Some later maturing soybeans and maybe some cotton are still trying to reach the physiological maturity, or to a point where we no longer need to irrigate them Irrigation on cotton, if not already stopped, should stop very soon if we don’t get rain and it there would only be late season soybeans left. There could still be irrigation there.”

“Most farmers are hoping they won’t have any more rain for the next, I would say, six weeks so they can harvest,” he said.

Recent heavy rains have improved topsoil moisture in five southern states. Louisiana reported a 53% topsoil moisture surplus, a decrease from the previous week after heavy rains in the central Gulf Coast region, according to the crop progress report from the USDA for the week ending September 4.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi each reported double-digit excess topsoil moisture above 10%.

The Arkansas landscape is beginning to dry out, but soil moisture varies from state to state.

Arkansas topsoil moisture levels were 37% very short to short, 60% adequate and 3% excess, according to the latest crop progress report.

Topsoil moisture levels the previous week in the state were 34% very short to short, 60% adequate and 6% excess.

“I was talking to a farmer yesterday. He said they were all tired of sitting in the store,” Daniels said.

“Well, they’ve rained so much, the fields are wet and they can’t go in and harvest and that makes them nervous. They’re ready to harvest, they’re ready to get it over with. It’s an exciting time of year for them. , so we’re at the point where now farmers want it to be dry for harvest.”

“Most of them are hoping that if it’s a normal year, we’ll get enough rain in late October and November that there’s enough moisture left to grow these crops.”

Excess topsoil moisture isn’t necessarily good for crops, and farmers don’t really need a lot of rain before fall, Daniels said, especially during wheat planting. because too much moisture could cause other problems with the crops.

In Arkansas, wheat and cover crops are typically planted in the fall, and farmers typically don’t irrigate cover crops because it’s an added expense, Daniels said.

Farmers in Arkansas are still somewhat affected by drought in the summer, especially since the row crops in the Delta use a lot of water.

Drought hit Arkansas in June and continued for several weeks, affecting crops, livestock production and pastures before rainfall finally began sporadically in the state last month.

“We had enough rain last month. August has been a very good month for us, especially the last three weeks for rain, which has temporarily reduced our surface drought problems,” said Daniels said.