Rains beat back drought in Arkansas, foster soybean rust

A series of late summer rains has pushed back the areas of extreme and exceptional drought to 42 percent of Arkansas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

The most intense drought, exceptional, is at 8.74 percent and is confined to an area that includes parts of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Boone, Newton, Marion, Searcy, Baxter, Stone and Izard counties with a small portion of extreme southwestern Fulton County. At its peak, on the Aug. 14 map, exceptional drought covered nearly 54 percent of the state.

Areas of least drought, either abnormally dry or moderate drought, are south and east of a line from Fouke in Miller County to Hope to Stuttgart to Brinkley, before heading south again to about Helena-West Helena.

The moist conditions in southeastern Arkansas have been a double-edged sword. While soil moisture and surface water needed replenishing, the rains came as rice was being harvested.

For soybean growers, the winds and rain that came with Isaac also brought more soybean rust. Travis Faske, extension plant pathologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Thursday the fungal disease was confirmed in Arkansas, Chicot, Desha and Lincoln counties.

“Though most of the soybeans are past the recommended growth stage for treatment, rust is a threat to late-planted soybeans that are in the mid-stages of reproduction,” he said.

Faske is recommending that producers with soybeans younger than the R6 stage in the areas where rust has been confirmed consider management options and keep a close eye on the fields.

For more information about crop production, contact your county extension office, or visit www.uaex.edu.