DeVALLS BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' cotton and soybean farmers are bringing in the last of their crops and enjoying a stretch of dry weather that's making the work possible.
Agents for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service said Thursday that all of the state's rice, about 90 percent of its cotton and 84 percent of its soybeans have been harvested.
Keith Perkins, a Lonoke County extension service agent, said this year's harvest has gone well, despite a few delays caused by rain, including the remnants of Hurricane Isaac.
The harvest was slowed by the rains brought by remnants of Hurricane Isaac.
"Even though we started our crops early, the harvest is a little later than average," Perkins said.
Brent Griffin, the Prairie County extension staff chair, said Isaac's remnants damaged some of the rice crop. Winds and heavy rain blew down rice plants, a condition known as lodging.
"One Prairie County grower commented on Hurricane Isaac's effects and all the lodged rice, saying, 'At least the sky carp — snow geese — will eat good this year,'" Griffin said. The grower added, "'Hope they stay out of my wheat.'"
Farmers have planted about half of the winter wheat crop, and a slightly more than one-third of it has sprouted.
Griffin said many farmers are doing fieldwork in anticipation of spring planting.
"Farmers are beginning to total crop receipts and paying off crop loans, ordering needed machinery for next year and purchasing inputs accordingly," Griffin said.
While recent dry weather has helped row crop farmers bring the harvest to a close, the conditions contributed to the continuing drought.
Most of Arkansas is experiencing some form of drought, and about a third of the state is dealing with extreme or exceptional drought — the two most severe classifications — according to the U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update released Thursday.
The drought outlook through January shows that conditions over most of the state are forecast to improve somewhat, though the state will remain in a drought. In northwest Arkansas, drought conditions are projected to persist or intensify.