Saturday, October 31, 2015

TOP STORY >> Farmers hoping they’ll cut losses

Leader senior staff writer

“At best, this is a break-even year for our farmers,” Lonoke Extension Service Chief Agent Jeff Welch said Friday. “Several will retire or go out of business starting next year. The profits just weren’t there.”

On top of that, he said, some bought new machinery during better times, and the note is another financial stress.

The soybean and rice harvests are winding down, and the cotton’s picked but not all out of the fields yet, Welch said.

“We had an excellent soybean harvest,” he said, but the rice harvest was down 10 percent to 15 percent. Farmers couldn’t plant early enough because of wet fields, followed by drought.

A couple of inches of rain over the past few days is delaying wheat planting, and Welch said he thought there would only be about 5,000 acres of winter wheat planted in Lonoke County this year.

“The price isn’t enough to take the risk,” he said.

Welch also said there was some damage to winter vegetables, including strawberries, kale and lettuce. Most of that is grown at Barnhill farms in the Cabot area. He said a few days of sunshine could correct that.

Thanks to this weeks rain, no Arkansas counties are currently under a burn ban, a dramatic change from about a week ago when about two-thirds were.