With flooding and other storm effects battering some 937,000 acres of Arkansas cropland, losses to farmers could hit $64.5 million, according to a preliminary estimate released Thursday by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“If those numbers scare you, you should be terrified,” said Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “I’m being conservative. There’s no sugar-coating it.”
The weather has struck Arkansas agriculture with some heavy blows in the last decade; row crop farmers suffering an estimated $40 million to $50 million loss last year due to heavy rain; beef cattle producers endured a $128 million loss from drought in 2012; and farmers were hit with an estimated $335 million in losses in 2011 from flooding that mirrored this year’s.
Thursday’s estimate was compiled by Hardke from a survey of extension agents and agronomists this week. Among the factors taken into account: the costs of seed and herbicides already applied, equipment and labor. It does not include the impact of the flooding and high winds to poultry facilities in the northeastern part of the state or farm structures, grain or feed storage or other structures.
Glimmer of hope
There was a glimmer of hope: of the 937,000 affected acres, the crops on 641,300 acres were expected to survive — if no more rain falls. Of the crops affected, rice was the hardest hit. Eighty-nine percent of the state’s anticipated 1.2-million-acre crop had been planted, according to the May 1 National Agricultural Statistics Service report. Seventy-one percent of planted rice had emerged.
“I’m estimating 156,000 acres of rice were lost,” Hardke said. “I don’t mean prevented planting, I mean acres lost that have already been planted.”
Soybean losses were pegged at 83,200 acres, corn at 47,900 acres and cotton at 9,300 acres.
Soybeans were projected at 3.5 million acres this year and were 45 percent planted and 32 percent emerged. Ninety-seven percent of a projected 600,000 acres of corn was planted and 89 percent emerged. Cotton, projected to total 500,000 acres, was 15 percent planted and 5 percent emerged.