Farms fight floods

Published 12:34 am Monday, March 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — While the creeping waters of the rising Mississippi River have encroached largely on areas without houses, flood waters are affecting some area farmers.

Flood stage for the river at the Natchez-Vidalia pass is 48 feet, and the river is expected to stand at 49.9 feet at 7 a.m. this morning, at 50.3 feet by Tuesday morning and is expected to crest at 53 feet sometime early Sunday.

In Adams County, farmland in the low-lying Carthage Point Road and Anna’s Bottom areas has flooded.

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How long it takes the river to recede after its crest is vitally important for farmers whose farmland has been flooded, National Weather Service Hydrologist Marty Pope said.

“The lesser the flood stage the better chance farmers will have to salvage at least part of the season,” Pope said.

Assuming the river will behave as predicted, once it recedes it will still take two weeks for the farmland to dry out enough for planting to begin, said farmer Mike Guidon, who uses farmland in Warren, Jefferson and Adams County that has been flooded.

“Generally, it takes about two weeks to dry out after the water goes out,” Guidon said.

Waiting for the land to dry before they can plant may cause some farmers to reevaluate what they are going to plant late in the game.

May 25 is the optimum planting date for corn, and June 15 is the date for planting soybeans.

“There is a time frame for planting certain crops, and it may be too late for us to plant corn or cotton,” Guidon said. “We might have to go in with soybeans, but this year they’re already having a problem finding good seed.”

The land that Guidon uses does not flood every year, and when it does cleanup is not usually that hard, he said.

“If there has been some logging in the area, there may be some chunks of debris in the field that you have to clean out,” he said.

When it comes to the rising — and then receding — floodwaters, Guidon said it’s just a matter of waiting.

“You just do what you can and know that the good Lord will take care of you.”