Isn’t it remarkable how our discussion of one topic can take on such a different meaning in just a couple of months? In our June issue, we were talking about the perseverance of Mid-South farmers as they battled record flooding along the Mississippi River. Last month in this space we discussed the challenges facing producers in the West as they continue to fight for reliable water supplies.
This month the discussion once again reverts to water, but our focus is on how an Arkansas farmer watched his acreage become completely flooded, and yet today his replanted cotton is rapidly catching up and shows great promise. How else can we describe this situation? How about a “Miracle Crop” in eastern Arkansas?
When you read about Brian McDaniel’s remarkable experience on pages 8 and 9, I think you’ll feel the same way. This isn’t an overstatement. In late May, he surveyed his 5,000 acres, and they looked like a huge lake. A few strips of land were visible, but the scene resembled a place where you’d fish or water ski on the weekend.
It didn’t seem remotely possible that the water could recede quickly enough to give him a chance to consider replanting his cotton. When Brian viewed the acreage from an airplane and took photos, the situation looked even worse. He was just about ready to call it quits, but then he realized that he had never quit on any project in his life. And he certainly wasn’t going to start now.
The Army Corps of Engineers also advised him on how quickly the floodwaters were receding. Still, as McDaniel said at the time, he thought he only had a 10 percent chance of successfully replanting this crop. With that thought in mind, he prepared to do the impossible when all of the water eventually drained out of the area. With newfound determination, he began a non-stop effort with the help of his father, John, and their workers.
When the cotton was finally replanted around June 5, McDaniel hoped that he could salvage something out of the crop. So far, the cotton looks even better than anyone could have imagined. Timely rains helped the cotton progress beautifully to where it looks almost as developed as his early cotton that wasn’t flooded. Call it a miracle or just good fortune.
Obviously, some difficult months lie ahead. The crop needs more heat units in August and dry weather in September to give it a chance to reach its full potential. Having walked these fields with Brian, it’s hard to believe what this enterprising Arkansas farmer has accomplished in such a short time. Don’t count his “miracle cotton” out yet. This story has an excellent chance for a happy ending.
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