Recent rain and wet fields cause more harm than good

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Typically this time of year rice farmers are moving full steam ahead on planting, but that hasn't been the case for many, including Lawrence County farmer Tori Hicks.

Hicks said, "This year the rain, it's slowed us down."

Hicks has been farming in Lawrence County for many years and he said lately the rain stops only long enough for the fields to begin to dry out.

"There's not been enough space between the rains to get a crop in yet," said Hicks.

Normally this time of year he would be out working in the fields planting nearly 3,000 acres of rice.

"Ideally if you can plant everything on April 15 it would be the best; but, of course, that can't happen," said Hicks.

Instead the planter and tractors are parked because the fields are just too muddy to do any work.

Hicks said, "If you get very far past that, we probably have a three or four week window, maybe a little more than that, but we start losing yield potential after that."

Hicks said every time rain has fallen they have picked up a substantial amount, which keeps him from planting even longer.

"A quarter to a half it dries up in a hurry; but, when you get one inch you get water pooled up, you might be able to see a few puddles out there and it takes a lot longer for that to dry up," said Hicks.

He said they are able to get a crop in a lot faster than in the past. The main reason is the bigger equipment which means they can cover a larger area.

"The way it is this year we will be planting day and night when it comes time. We can plant 500 to 600 acres a day."

In the meantime, Hicks will be looking ahead and waiting for the next opportunity to plant.

"Just like a businessman does whenever he has a change, you plan your days and you kind of plan ahead to see what you might be able to do," said Hicks.

Herb Ginn with the Lawrence County Cooperative Extension Service said nearly 100,000 acres of rice are planted in the county each year. So far they only have about eight to 10,000 acres planted. The bad news, more rain is on the way.

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