Region 8 Farmers Watch, Wait for Impending Rains

JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- Early April is a time when most Region Eight farmers are preparing their fields for planting.  But that's not the case for many farmers this year. With river water covering their fields, they have to sit it out and wait for their fields to dry.

Farmers are watching and waiting the skies near the Cache River Bottoms.

"There are just lots and lots of acres under water," said farmer Joe Christian.

Fields in Jackson County are usually filled with newly planted rice but for some farmers in Region 8 the planting hasn't started because the river is where their crops should be.

"We're looking at the back water of Cache River and it's the highest it's ever been that I can remember," said Christian.

For now he's playing the waiting game.

"If it quits raining now and that's if it doesn't rain anymore maybe we can get in my may first.  It will take that long for it to go down maybe longer," said Christian.

And even when the water does go down, the fields have to dry out enough to get the rice in, but the wish for clear skies doesn't look promising.

"I just want it to quit raining right now.  That's the biggest thing if it would just quit raining maybe we can start to see improvement but you look at the forecast and the next three days they've got rain and by the middle of next week they've got rain again," said Christian.

The rain is already starting to fall in some parts of Region Eight and the more this rain falls the later the date is pushed back for farmers to get their crops into the ground.

Christian says the river is still rising and the water is already blocking the path to most of his land.

"I've got some already priced for this year and I've got to get it in and I've got basically 70-80% of my ground that's in water right now," said Christian.

This water is higher than farmers have seen here and with no sign of it going down soon. Christian says some of the fields may not even see a crop this spring.

"You get into May 15th and you start cutting yield and it's not worth planting as high as fuel and fertilizer is," said Christian.

Christian believes he does have one field of wheat planted and it has standing water on it.  He says he will wait to see what the rain does overnight and he may have to pump the water off of that field so he doesn't lose the wheat crop.

The Cache River is responsible for the flooding along highway 226 and Christian says if it weren't for the log jam in the river the flooding wouldn't be nearly as severe.