As the Mississippi River rose to significant flooding levels last week, panic ensued across farm country. Producers worked late into the night to take grain, machinery and livestock to higher ground out of harm’s way. ProFarmer’s Chip Flory caught up with farmers from Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri on this morning’s episode of AgriTalk Radio.
“Last week was a challenging week to end the year with storms,” says Chad Leman a grain and hog farmer from central Illinois. “As I look at fields right now, there are ponds everywhere frozen over.”
Amid reports that soybean exports could be drastically affected by the storm Leman says some grain facilities shut down for a while, but now things are back to business as usual.
“Right here by the Illinois river, things did get really high,” he says. “I think we had some terminal facilities that were shut down but for the most part things are flowing again.”
Leman also raises hogs. He says that despite the high waters, they were able to get hogs to market but were met by long lines because the plant was behind. Another Illinois hog farmer wasn’t so lucky when 2,500 of his hogs drowned.
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Unfortunately there is another storm system moving into the area.
“We’ve got rain the forecast starting tomorrow through Saturday,” Leman says.
With more rain on the way, it’s no surprise farmers still have flooding on their minds.
“We’re ready for it now,” says Derek Haigwood, a grain farmer from Newport, Ark. “It came up so quickly last go around. If we want to do anything this time, there won’t be a panic that ensues.”
Haigwood says long-term damage on fields depends on how fast the water rises.
“In 2011 we ended up losing acreage,” he says. “We had riparian buffers along the river but we still had sand deposits in the fields.”
Haigwood says the soil in those flooded fields is just now getting back to the condition he’d prefer it to be. He hopes that his riparian buffers will keep the sand at bay like they have done in the past.
“In the past 10 to 15 years we’ve planted riparian buffers all the way around the river to prevent that,” he says. “We’ve had pine trees die because they were buried by six foot sand drifts they blocked from our fields.”
Missouri farmer Gene Millard says at this time things in his area are ok. He too reminisced about the 2011 flood. That year he had to take apart an ethanol plant to spare it from water damage. He says putting it back together was the challenge.
“Humpty Dumpty putting back together again is a lot harder than taking him apart,” he says.
Are you dealing with flooding in your area? Share your story in the comments section below.