Louisiana and Arkansas Flood Damage

Louisiana and Arkansas Flood Damage

August 24, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Please note: This Week in Louisiana Agriculture and NBC News contributed to this article.

Historic flooding in Louisiana will cost farmers an estimated $110,000,000. The LSU Ag Center released the preliminary estimates, but says the figure is expected to grow because yield loss, quality reduction, and loss of stored commodities aren't immediately clear. When it comes to the state's soybean crop, it could end up the hardest hit with about $46,000,000 in yield losses expected. 

While farmers wait for water to recede, Ben Guillot of Guillot Farms gives his take on the flood damage: "It's devastating to see something you've tried so hard to make into something, and see mother nature put her little twist on it. But it's all we can do in a day’s time. We've been doing this for a while. We haven't lost any beans in the past. This year may be a challenging year, but I'm being optimistic."

Yield reductions will cost the Louisiana rice industry around $33,000,000. But luckily, 20% of the crop remained in the field during the flood.

However in Arkansas, producers report it's still much too wet to harvest their crops. 

Josh Berry from KARK-TV spoke with local Arkansas crop consultant from Straton Seed Company Aaron Thompson about the matter. Thompson noted regarding the halt on harvest season, “Everybody should have a combine in the field. “

Berry continues, “Rice harvest should be full speed ahead across Arkansas, but no one's moving.”

Thompson adds, "Due to the weather and the rain that we're getting, that's not able to happen, because it's keeping the moisture too high, and you're not able to harvest." 

Berry continues, “Rain, come harvest time, is keeping farmers from cutting. And the longer they wait, the bigger the issue becomes.”

“That's gonna be the problem right there: imbibing a lot of water and starting to swell up,” says rice extension agronomists Jarrod Hardke.

“All this rain is causing new sprouts on the rice,” says Berry, “damaging the grain you'd otherwise eat, and damaging the financial return for farmers.” 

Matthew Feilke, owner of Feilke Farms, admits "It's just ... It's just not gonna be good."

“And the challenges don't end there,” says Berry. “The amount of moisture beneath that top layer of this crop affects how easy it is to separate the rice from the plant."

"When you end up taking it to the mill and you're not getting much for it – for all the hard work you put into it – it can be devastating," Feilke says.

“Commodity prices are already low, but these issues could mean thousands more lost on crops across the state impacted by saturating rain,” Berry adds.

Regarding the final prognosis of the crops and their ability to sell, rice extension agronomist Jarrod Hardke says, "We'll know when that crop gets hauled in and actually goes through the milling process."

“And the losses can continue piling up the longer the heavy machinery sits idle,” says Berry. 

Agronomists with the University of Arkansas extension say the harvest losses from recent rains could be about 15–20 cents or even more per bushel.

These vicious floods have wiped out fields, destroying crops and causing heartache for the caretakers of our precious land. But one thing stands firm in the midst of this trying time, The Farmer. 

Staying hopeful and positive, Feilke says, "All I can pray for is some sunshine so we can get ready and try to get it out here as fast as we can."

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