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Farmers in Mississippi Delta Fighting Flood and Drought at Same Time

By Daniel Cherry | Published 09 Jun 2011 10:02pm | comments
Farmers are having to irrigate beside flooded areas

Estimates show the cost of the flood to agriculture could be more than 250 million dollars, but farmers in the Mississippi Delta have more to worry about than just floodwaters. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how growers this year are dealing with record flooding and a drought at the same time.

The Mississippi Delta is some of the most fertile land in the country, but farming there comes with it's risks. Scott Haynes farms about 9 thousand acres just north of Yazoo City. He's taking shelter in the cab of his truck from a thunderstorm. It's the first rain some of his fields have seen in more than a month.

"We're flooded out on about half the acres and the other half hasn't had a rain in over a month. We've got corn burning up, soybeans we can't get planted, and other areas we're under water and can't do anything there either."

He says to call his growing season this year "tough" is an understatement. Andy Prossor with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture says it's a little hard to get your head around seeing the two extremes side by side.

"In some cases you have fields that are actually next to each other and neighbors who are actually next to each other. One may have been flooded and one may have a drought. One may be irrigating right next to a field that actually is flooded."

Unfortunately for Scott Haynes, the shower is hitting his flooded land, and missing his dry acres. He says he doesn't expect anything less with the way this year has been going.

"We lost probably 90% of our corn, about half of our wheat crop, 500-600 acres of rice, and a little bit of cotton that we had planted. Probably 4,000 to 4,500 acres that's a complete loss. A lot of those (the dry acres) we haven't been able to plant because it was predicted to flood so we didn't plant early because of the predictions, and then we didn't have moisture to plant since then.

Soybeans can be planted later than most other crops and it's one of the last hopes of salvaging the season for some farmers. However, Haynes says that window will start closing in about two weeks.

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Farmers are having to irrigate beside flooded areas


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