Despite this week's rain and winter weather, much of Arkansas remains in a drought.
According to Mary Hightower with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, farmers are welcoming the precipitation any way they can get it because half of the Natural State is still too dry.
For more information, read the complete press release below.
Wintry weather system brings much-needed moisture to drought areas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The winter storm system that prompted schools to let out early on Wednesday and delayed school and office openings on Thursday, has dropped some much-needed moisture in a state still struggling with drought.
Waves of thunderstorms, some with hail, rolled across parts of the state Thursday morning, while some were scraping ice off their car windows to get to work. Thin layers of ice coated some utility lines in Randolph County, said Mike Andrews, extension staff chair there for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Quarter-sized hail was reported in Pulaski County, half-dollar-sized hail near Camden and a quarter of inch of ice coated trees near Glenwood on Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Thursday morning's U.S. Drought Monitor Map showed 49.8 percent of Arkansas being abnormally dry, under moderate drought or under severe drought. The drought-free areas were generally southeast of a line from Sharp County to the very southern tip of Miller County.
"Pastures are ready to grow again if we ever get about two weeks of sunshine," said Johnny Gunsaulis, Washington County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "We had enough moisture to sprout, just not grow.
"Winter annuals planted last fall are green, but never got much growth," he said. "They are ready to bust out of the ground with a little moisture whenever we get a stretch of 50- to 60-degree weather."
Mena, near the Oklahoma border, received a little bit of everything Wednesday and Thursday.
"Polk County: The weather gateway to Arkansas!" Carla Vaught, the county's extension staff chair said Thursday morning with a laugh. The ground is still white in Polk County and now there's a sheet of ice on top of it," "It's currently thundering, pea-sized hail is falling, it's 36 degrees and also raining hard. Hopefully, the white ground will disappear soon.
Further south in Little River County, where Thursday's map divided the county into moderate and severe drought, County Extension Staff Chair Joe Paul Stuart welcomed the weather.
"We'll take the rain," he said. "However, it's beginning to get pretty wet, or maybe we just think so, since we haven't seen mud in so long."
Although the map shows Arkansas' row crop country to be free of drought, some farmers are still finding the soil to be very dry a few inches down.
"The top 4 to 6 inches of soil are wet, but not sloppy muddy," said Brent Griffin, Prairie County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "Subsoil is still dry enough that people laying pipe or digging tailwater recovery reservoirs are running into no trouble.
"People are still capturing any excess runoff to surface water holding areas," he said.
However, in Arkansas' southeasternmost county, corn growers are keeping an eye for signs of drying in the fields. Last year, some Chicot County farmers began planting corn the last weekend in February.
"If it wasn't wet, we would be planting now," Gus Wilson, Chicot County's extension staff chair said Thursday. "We have producers on go just waiting on the land to dry up."
For more information about planning for a disaster, contact your county extension office, or CLICK HERE.
The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.