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Rains Bring Relief; River Floods Again
STARKVILLE -- Most farmers welcomed recent rains, but growers along the Mississippi River are experiencing an unbelievable fourth year of late season flooding.
Wayland Hill, hydrologic engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, said flooding along the lower Mississippi is a result of rains much farther north.
"Last month, states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania received about 300 percent of their normal rainfall," Hill said. "The Mississippi River drains 43 percent of the continental United States and parts of two Canadian provinces."
Warren County agent Terry Rector said more than 9,000 acres are under water from the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers.
"All of our land that wasn't under water needed the recent rain," Rector said. "We really don't want the folks upriver around Missouri to get any more for a while."
Rector said most farmers appreciated the first inch and a half of rain.
"The next three-quarter inches didn't matter one way or the other, but anything more than that was unwelcomed by most cropland farmers," Rector said.
It is an understatement to say that a fourth straight year of late season flooding is unusual.
"Last year was worse. The river rose higher and stayed high longer," Hill said. "But since the river normally crests in April, these late May and June crests are especially hard on farmers."
In 1995, the river crested at 47 feet in Vicksburg on June 12, compared to this year's crest of almost 44 feet around June 1. The river crested in May in 1994.
The good news from the Corps of Engineers is that the Steele Bayou control structure is holding back about 7 feet of the Mississippi and Yazoo backwater. Since smaller rivers empty into this area, local rains pose an area flooding threat.
While recent rains brought some relief to most of the state, Coahoma County experienced crop damaging storms.
Charlie Estess, Coahoma County agent, said about 12,000 acres received a massive "footprint" from hail, rains and strong winds.
"About 5,000 acres of cotton were the hardest hit and more than half will have to be replanted either in cotton or soybeans," Estess said. "Corn and older soybeans weathered the storm in better shape."