Record Drought Having An Impact On Crops At Arkansas Farmers Markets

Jul 27, 2012

Crowds look through produce at the Little Rock Farmer's Market.
Credit littlerock.com

At farmers markets across Arkansas, growers say the record drought this summer is having a big impact on their crops, with harvests below normal.

On a recent day in the Little Rock Farmer’s Market downtown, a live accordionist played as shoppers made their way through the pavilions looking at produce.

But grower Lance Cummings of Jane, Elaine and Betty Plants and Produce says the harvests for just about every crop are less than usual this year.

"Well a lot of our stuff came in earlier than normal because it rained real early in the spring. And then when the drought hit, of course, everything burned up," Cummings said. "So far this season, I have not been able to find any Arkansas pinto beans, which by now we should have had for about four weeks."

But he says while the quality of the produce has been good, it’s the quantity of the fruits and vegetables that has been severely affected.

"Tomatoes have been great, but that season has been super short, too. Usually we have Arkansas tomatoes all the way until the first week of September," Cummings said. "I have probably this week and next week, and our Arkansas tomatoes will be done, which is shocking. That’s the biggest one."

Behind a table covered in cantaloupe, greens and strawberries, grower Danny Carpenter agrees that it has been a tough season.

"All farmers are really having a hard time this year," Carpenter said. "You know, it’s not just vegetable farmers, it’s bean, cotton farmers, too. You know everybody’s having a tough time."

Because of the dry conditions he has to continue working hard to get a substantial amount of crops, but has this advice for his fellow growers.

"Don’t give up, just keep on planting and irrigating and taking care of the crops," Carpenter said.