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Soybean farmers race the clock after rains

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 14, 2014 at 7:20 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — A cool, rainy spring and a wet start to summer have Arkansas soybean analysts concerned that farmers may be in danger of losing their crop.

Heavy rains on June 29 in the Arkansas Delta led to flooded fields. Soybean agronomist Jeremy Ross with the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture said many fields in the region have standing water and some farmers may be forced to replant, with uncertain results.

"What we really need now is for the White and the Cache rivers to top to get the water off these fields," Ross said. "There are still a number of fields that have water standing on them, either the entire field or a portion.

"For replanting purposes, we're definitely late," Ross said, noting soybeans take about 100-120 days to mature.

"If you look at the average first frost date, it's Nov. 1. If you calculate out the time to maturity, you're getting really close to that first frost," Ross said.

And an early frost would cause even more difficulties.

"If something comes in mid- to the end of October, we'll be in trouble," Ross said. "They won't be able to mature out."

Ross also pointed out another risk of replanting at this time of year.

"Keep in mind these late-planted fields will be the only green commodity out there," he said. "They'll be biological magnets for insects, diseases and other pests, and we're already having a pretty buggy year."

Rice and cotton crops are also experiencing difficulties due to the moisture.

Flooding is a normal part of rice production in Arkansas. But even rice has its limits, said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the division.

"A number of acres have been under water for a significant length of time," he said. "A number of producers were able to get the water down in seven days or less and are seeing new crop growth which means that while those plants may be delayed, they should recover just fine."

But he said some fields that have been submerged for up to two weeks and face the death of their plants.

Wet soils have also stunted root, and plant development in cotton, according to Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist.


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