Flood's threat to U.S. rice crop grows

by May 10, 2011
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — With the peak rice planting period almost over, flooding along the Mississippi River in the U.S. could have a significant impact on this year's crop, the USA Rice Federation said on May 9.

"We're behind now and we still have 50% of our rice crop to plant," University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Prairie County Extension Staff Chair Brent Griffin told the Associated Press.

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension recently issued a bulletin detailing the specifics of water-seeding rice as one potential planting option as a result of the flood situation. The information provides growers with a list of key requirements to be considered before making a decision to water-seed rice.

A total of 13 Arkansas counties have been declared disaster areas this month.

"This really is critical, and this is just the beginning. We'll see the ramifications for the next 30 to 45 days," Griffin added.

CNN reported on May 9 that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre spillway north of New Orleans in an effort to calm the rising Mississippi River. Its opening will ease pressure on New Orleans levees and is part of a "decades-old flood plan," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided an update on the flood situation to the Delta Council annual meeting on Friday in Mississippi. According to its most recent information, projected crests are 57.5 ft. at Vicksburg on May 19, 64.5 ft. at Greenville on May 16, 53.5 ft. at Arkansas City on May 15, and 56.5 ft. at Helena on May 12.

A majority of the crops grown in the flatlands along the river "will be under pressure, under water, in a disaster-type situation," Mississippi Department of Agriculture spokesman Andy Prosser told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
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