Hot Temperatures, Dry Farms

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- Farmers across the area are thankful for the small amount of rain that fell on Monday in parts of Region 8.

This spring has been very difficult for farmers.  The spring started with everything under water and the summer is very dry so far.  I talked to a farmer today who says yesterdays' rainfall probably saved him thousands of dollars.

"We had rain all spring long up until two weeks ago," said farmer Marty White.

White said because of Mother Nature he had to plant his crops in two weeks when it usually takes him a month and a half.

"All of my crops are late.  It's the latest I've ever planted rice.  I was very late planting corn this year.  A lot later than I like to be," said White.

With the extreme heat and high temperatures many farmers are resorting to methods they don't like to have to use very often:  irrigation.

"Unfortunately with the dry weather a lot of people had to flush their fields just to get them up, which is an unanticipated cost," said Craighead County Extension Agent Steve Culp.

"We've had to run our pivots to get our corn up.  We've had to flush our fields to get our rice up.  All of that's become very expensive to do with the high cost of diesel today," said White.

Every time the fields are watered it costs a lot of money.  With very limited rainfall, White said they've got to do what they can to keep their crops alive.

"We're watering for the second time and each time this pivot makes a circle around, the fuel alone is over $4000," said White.

"The fuel prices are over twice what they were this time last year for off road diesel.  Farmers are very concerned about this spiraling cost on fuel and fertilizer," said Culp.

Culp said the silver lining of the high fuel prices is that most farmers are getting decent commodity prices.  Without the increase in the prices for the crops, many of the farmers wouldn't be able to make it.

"Our crop has become a very expensive crop.  Thank God we have good prices, but our expenses are eating that up in a hurry," said White.

A lot of farmers grew corn last year because it was selling at a really good price.  A lot of the high price was associated with the production of biodiesel using corn.  This year there are still more corn farmers than there had been in the past, but less than there were last year.