LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The wet weather has brought uncertainty to Arkansas’ spring’s harvest, as persistent rainfall has made it difficult for many farmers to plant their crops.
Along with organic vegetables, the planting of soybeans, cotton, corn and rice is also lagging, even more than last season, which was marred by a wet spring and flooding along the Arkansas River, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“I haven’t planted one acre yet,” said Shawn Peebles, the state’s largest commercial grower of organic vegetables. He owns 2,000 acres of land in Woodruff, Prairie and White counties. “You never have a harvest unless you get a crop.”
Pebbles said he still may have time to plant and get a good crop for this year, but the planting window for the best yields for all of his crops closes every day.
“Every grower of any crop is in the same position,” said Peebles, who switched from conventional farming to an entirely organic operation about 12 years ago. “My dad grows watermelons. They’ve been planted, but they’re little and they’re yellow. Crop conditions for anything are poor right now, at best.”
The majority of Peebles’ sweet potato crop each year goes to the Costco retail grocery chain, which has the the sweet potatoes processed into chips.
He has stored 1.5 million pounds of sweet potatoes from last year’s crop to sell this year, which normally would be enough to last into this fall’s harvest, but he expects to be sold out by next month.
The coronavirus pandemic has also affected farming operations, regardless of size or product.
Small vegetable farms, ranchers and dairy operations have been scrambling to find other ways to sell their produce, meats and milk because of disruptions in their supply chains.
John D. Anderson, an agriculture economics professor at the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture, said other issues such as a drop in consumer confidence, a disruption in the flow of trade, salary reductions and a depletion of savings, will last for much longer.