Worried Farmers Start Harvesting

September 18, 2005 - Posted at 10:50 p.m. CDT

  Jonesboro - Agriculture officials say they expect an average harvest for Arkansas' rice crop, though higher yields would help growers offset price pressures they are feeling this year.

Craighead County cooperative extension agent Brandon Thiesse is among experts who think the crop will be no better than an average year. In 2003 and 2004, growers had bumper crops.Rain that fell across much of the state on Wednesday slowed the start of the harvest. Thiesse says the late soybean crop needed the rain, but not the rice.

Though Arkansas is home to Riceland Foods and Producers Rice Mill, there is still concern among growers that problems on theMississippi River could affect farmers' bottom lines. The river has low water and has been impacted by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.Farmers have also been coping with high prices for fuel, fertilizer and other essentials.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)