Although rain has been in the forecast, area farmers say they’re still struggling with the effects of a long-term drought.
Jesse Bocksnick, Sebastian County Extension Agent with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, explained the winter wheat crop in particular is hurting this year.
“It was dry when they put [their crop] in the ground,” Bocksnick said. “It’s been pretty dry all year round. We’ve been in a two-and-a-half-year drought.”
Even though it has rained this week, Bocksnick said it’s not enough to really help the winter wheat crop.
“What we need is a good, slow-soaking-in rain because we are several inches behind,” Bocksnick said. “But we can’t get it all at once.”
If the water comes down too quickly, he said it just washes away without doing much for the crop.
“People do not realize or think about a drought this time of year, especially when you’ve got a little bit of drizzle outside and its cold.” Bocksnick said. “But right now, we’re in a severe drought. I mean you look at the drought monitor, and our producers can tell you, their crops aren’t growing. The winter wheat’s not growing especially.”
But, even with tough growing conditions, Bocksnick said he believes the winter wheat will come through for most area farmers.
“It is going to make it,” Bocksnick said. “But it’s hard to tell how many inches of rain [we need] because we’re 10, 12, 15 inches behind or whatever the latest prediction is. But what we need is a good slow, soaking-in-rain with lots of moisture.”
Jamie Patterson, a winter wheat farmer in Lavaca, said he usually harvests his winter wheat crop around the first week of June. But after such a mild winter, he said he might be harvesting a few weeks earlier this year.