Drowned Wheat Crop

JACKSON COUNTY (KAIT) - The wheat loss in arkansas will run into thousands of acres and thousands of dollars.

This time of year, tractors should be in the fields and the winter wheat should be lush and green.

Unfortunately in many parts of Region 8 the only tractor in use is pumping water out of a wheat field that is brown and dead looking.

This was the first day that dennis haigwood has been able to get through the flooded roads to this field near Newport.

Haigwood, "It's a little worse, the current was more swift than i expected."

Contrary to what i had been told, wheat does not like a lot of water.

Haigwood, "One thing about wheat is get the water off. The saying is wheat does not like wet feet."

With much of his field still covered by nearly hip deep water Haigwood says if it all drained off today he still has problems.

"This ground is saturated, we've actually got water coming out of the ground through wells,so even if the surface gets dry the roots are gonna be wet for quite a long time."

With this crop basically a write off, all the money farmers have put into the wheat so far is lost. Where do you go from here?

Haigwood, "The options are whether you spray it with a burn down something like round up to consider a different crop. The price is pretty high if you got it booked you may opt to salvage what you can."

Helping the farmers to make these decisions is the Extension service.

Randy Chlapecka Staff Chmn. "If it's not good enough to save then help them make some determinations on what crop to plant and how to handle that wheat residue before planting the next crop."

Besides the obvious flooding issues other things farmers gonna have to deal with is debris cleanup and what to do with fields that were damaged that were ready to farm right now.

Haigwood, "We should be planting rice right here planting rice and planting corn today full blast. If everything is good it will be a couple of days before we can start on our highest land. Outside the flood plain probably 2/3 weeks behind. Right here we're probably 5 weeks behind."

"It's just gonna be a mess. It'll linger all through the summer on what to do about this.

As of right now there is not an exact number of wheat acres lost to flooding but Extension officials expect it to run into the thousands.