River crest coming?

Published 1:05 am Monday, April 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — With the Mississippi River bloating to the very top of its banks, today is a day many Miss-Lou residents have looked forward to for weeks — the river is expected to reach its crest of 57 feet sometime this morning.

After that, the National Weather Service has forecast the river to stay at that level until Thursday, when it should drop one-tenth of a foot to 56.9 feet, and then — if all goes well — incrementally fall over the course of a few weeks until it drops below flood stage.

And for the farmers whose low-lying farmland has been flooded, that can’t come quickly enough.

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“We might not have much time to do much tilling,” Adams County farmer Mike Guedon said. “When you’re in a no-till situation, you just plant into whatever you left there on the land last year.”

Though where land is located will determine when the water recedes from it, Guedon said for him a best case scenario would leave him planting at the end of May.

“The water has to be off the land for a week or 10 days before the land can be dry enough to do anything,” Guedon said.

But there may be a silver lining to the situation.

“The flooding usually helps the soil,” Guedon said. “Where there is a current it may wash out some topsoil, but generally the water doesn’t hurt the soil, it helps.”

Miss-Lou residents have kept an eye on the river since it started approaching flood stage — 48 feet at the Natchez-Vidalia pass — in mid-to-late March.

The floodwaters stand at their second-highest recorded stage, with only the flood of 1937, when the waters reached 58.04 feet, ahead of them in the record books.

The river began cresting at lower than expected levels at the Vicksburg pass Saturday.