Lack of Rain Accelerates Crop Planting

April 21, 2003
Posted at: 10:23 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Region 8 farmers are optimistic about the year before them. Rice and cotton growers say the sooner they're able to get their crops planted the better, and many are already ahead of the game.

Farmer Joe Christian says he'll probably plant a few soybeans because he's nearly finished planting rice for this season.

"It's been pretty dry and we're actually way farther down the planning process than normal way ahead," Christian said.

Some farmers in Jonesboro already have 80 percent of their rice crops planted. They say the main thing they have to worry about now is weather. Christian says he's at least two weeks ahead of his planting schedule. He says last week's rain wasn't enough and it's caused him some problems.

"We needed rain this weekend, and we didn't get any," Christian said. "We are having to flush the rice to get it to come through the crust of the ground."

County agent Steve Culp says he wouldn't be surprised if some farmers chose to begin planting their cotton crops soon.

"We normally think about the latter part of April, or the first of May about cotton being planted," Culp said. "Soil tempreatures are getting better and a lot of people told me they were going to start this week."

Culp says because of last fall farm land needed a bit more preparation this season.

"Last fall was extremely wet, a lot of fields were rutted up a lot of dirt work had to be done," Culp said.

Favorable conditions for rice farmers include plenty of rain. For cotton growers, temperatures need to stay above 68 degrees for planting. Many Region 8 farmers say that this season needs to be a successful one.