Rice farmers preparing for heavy rain, high wind

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Rice farmers in Region 8 are preparing for the possibility of heavy rain and high winds as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches land.

Rice farmer Scott Flanigan said his crew has started already cutting in hopes of beating the storm remnant of rain and wind that could cause a massive loss in crop yields.


Flanigan has experienced a hurricane footprint before.


"Hurricane Katrina was horrible. The rice all went down and it takes a whole lot longer with harvest," he said. "We have to pick the rice up off the ground. (It) slows us down, (we) lose productivity, and it's just a mess."


Flanigan said he and his five man crew are making progress with the possibility of rain coming Thursday night into Friday, but still have a lot of ground to cover to get all the seed to his seed dealer. "I've got about 1500 acres of rice, and we're pushing about 500 acres now, and we're about a third finished."


To finish in time involves taking some chances. "When we're running these long hours and pushing all the equipment as hard as we can push it, you take the risk of accidents and injuries."


Flanigan said they are pushing the equipment harder as well. "We're driving faster. I normally like to drive four and a half, five miles an hour, but we're running faster trying to beat the bad weather."


He said the extra effort is worth it to get a return on his investment. "We've got all the money in the crop, from the seed, to the fertilizer, to the chemicals, to the pumping costs all year."


"This is the worst time to lose a crop. So, any money lost now is a big loss."


Forecasters predict northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri could get about an inch of rain the further west Hurricane Isaac tracks, and four to five inches the further east it tracks.

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