September 8, 2010 Edition

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Rain's timing off for farmers

Aaron Manning of Walnut Ridge cut rice on Tuesday as rains began falling in Lawrence County. He was working on his family's farm located off Lawrence County Road 708, near Sedgwick.
TD Photo ~ Shantelle Prater

Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

After an excessively dry and humid summer, recent rains have disrupted harvest of the 120,000 acres of rice planted in Lawrence County.

"Harvest was going pretty fast," said Minturn farmer Jerry Eades. "The ground was dry and the yield was down, but now that the rains have hit it all just depends on the weather."

"This rain is going to delay the rice harvest," said Bruce Manning, who farms near Sedgwick.

Farmers, such as Bruce and his son, Aaron, cut rice on Tuesday until noon, trying to beat the rain.

"We cut about 40 acres of rice on Tuesday, but still have about 900 acres remaining," Manning said.

According to Lawrence County Extension Agent Herb Ginn roughly 40 percent of rice has been harvested this year. Eades reported that he has already harvested between 600 and 700 acres.

"Yields have not been exceptional this year due to the summer heat and dry spell," said Ginn. "The heat really affected the crop and at some times it was just too hot."

Ginn also reported that winds could cause lodging, which will continue to slow the harvest progress.

Last year farmers faced difficulties such as shattering and lodging because of an abundance of rain, but this year are facing issues with stinkbugs.

"I am afraid this may be the worst year we have seen in a while," said Eades. "The stinkbugs were epidemic and it just may not turn out to be a good year for rice."

Pilot Ryan Simmons of Farm Air Flying in Minturn reported that they have sprayed more this year for stinkbugs than normal.

"Most people think the stinkbugs were so bad this year because of the excessive heat and dry weather," Simmons said. "They also claim the weather is to blame for worms in soybeans this year."

"The rain could benefit the soybean crop," said Ginn. "We have a lot of dryland soybeans that it could help if it's not too late."

Ginn said a definite benefit to the rain will be felt by those who have pastureland.

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