November 11, 2009 Edition

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Mud causes problems for local farmers

Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

Local farmers are suffering from the aftermath of record rainfall during October.

As the skies have cleared, allowing farmers the chance to harvest their crop, mud has caused yet another side effect to this year's harvest.

"There is a rotten, sour smell in fields that some describe as 'hog pen smell'," said Jefferson County University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Staff Chair Don Plunkett.

The smell is due to anaerobic bacteria that have been soaked into the soil. Not only is this bacteria causing a foul smell, it is also causing disease and other devastating effects.

Fungus and other ills caused from the rainfall and mud are slowing farmers down but according to Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean agronomist for the U of A Division of Agriculture, "As long as the weather holds, guys will be going 24/7."

"It's unbelievable that the first week of November has been our best week so far of the 2009 harvest," said Scott Stiles, instructor of agricultural economics for the U of A Division of Agriculture.

"Over the past week we have harvested 23 percent of our soybean acreage. Historically, you just don't make that kind of progress in November," Stiles said.

As farmers take advantage of the nice weather, there have been some problems with equipment getting stuck.

Hunter Jones, farmer with Stan Jones Farm, stated his combine got stuck because the field has yet to dry from recent rains.

"The field is pure gumbo and has not completely dried in a year and a half," said Jones.

According to the U of A Division of Agriculture, soybean growers are harvesting beans damaged by fungus, germination, split pods and other problems causing a devastating $49.29 million in losses with 66 percent of soybeans harvested for the state of Arkansas.

Another $50.03 million loss has been estimated for rice growers with 94 percent of rice harvested in Arkansas.

Lawrence County Interim Extension Staff Chair Herb Ginn said it is not yet known how bad losses in Lawrence County will be.

"We are still in the process of getting numbers for Lawrence County," he said.

He said the harvest is still underway and they are still looking at results from crops that have already been harvested.

How long it will take to complete this year's harvest remains to be seen.

"With a continuation of the weather we've seen over the past week, we could be done by Thanksgiving," Stiles said.

"If the weather turns 'normal,' we will still be harvesting well into December."

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