2013 planting begins with corn in Chicot Co.

3/4/2013 2:30 PM
By Associated Press

LAKE VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — Farmers in far southeastern Chicot County planted corn Monday, the first in Arkansas to do so for the 2013 growing season.

Gus Wilson, Chicot County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said corn farmers last year planted during the last week in February. This year, they were held up because recent rain left the fields too muddy.

Wilson said it's probably not too early to plant there.

"It's a little cool, but as long as we don't get a heavy, cold rain, we ought to be alright," he said.

Growers in Little River County in southwestern Arkansas may be next in the fields.

"Nothing yet, but may plant some corn this week," said Joe Paul Stuart, Little River County extension staff chair.

Farmers in Chicot County have turned to corn as cotton has fallen out of favor. In 2005, Chicot County growers planted 12,000 corn acres, and it rose to more than 45,000 acres in 2012. Corn acreage grew in Little River County too, from 8,500 in 2011 to 10,000 in 2012.

Statewide, Arkansas farmers harvested almost 700,000 acres of corn last year.

In northern Arkansas, there's been no movement toward the fields.

"I have not heard of anyone even talking about planting yet," said Keith Perkins, Lonoke County extension agent. "It will be soon, but best to keep the seed in the bag for now."

Cattle producers are hoping to have successful spring forage considering that a hay shortage is lingering from last year's drought. A number of them have planted fescue for their pastures along with some spring oats.

And home gardeners are putting in potatoes and peas in northeastern Arkansas, said Berni Kurz, Washington County extension staff chair.

Should U.S. farmers be permitted to grow nonintoxicating hemp for industrial uses?

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