Arkansas cotton growers have battled pests and disease this year, and the emergence of a fungus late in the season indicates a potential threat in the years ahead.
State growers are expected to harvest estimated 270,000 acres of cotton in 2013, down by more than half from 600,000 acres a year ago.
As recently as 2006, Arkansas growers planted nearly 1.2 million acres of cotton. Agriculture officials say growers will suffer yield losses due to tarnished plant bugs. And the emergence of Corynespora leaf spot is a new challenge for Arkansas growers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says more than $2.3 million is now available for Arkansas farmers and landowners to monitor edge of field water quality on agricultural lands in watersheds throughout the state.
Funding comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for voluntarily monitoring practices in priority watersheds which have been targeted for funding.
Arkansas State Conservationist Mike Sullivan says the agency is working aggressively to improve the health of the watersheds in the state and the Mississippi River Basin.
Poultry experts hope China will quickly lift restrictions put in place after nine Arkansas chickens were exposed to a strain of avian flu.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture told Arkansas' congressional delegation that China had stopped importing Arkansas chicken parts. Nine birds in Scott County were exposed to a non-pathogenic strain of avian flu during floods in June.
Arkansas Scientists have developed two new soybean varieties that offer high yields.
Dr. Pengyin Chen, director of the Division of Agriculture's soybean breeding program, says the new soybeans are not genetically modified and can be timed for harvest after farmers have completed harvesting their rice crop.
“[The soybeans] are bred by using conventional classical breeding techniques, know as crossbreeding,” said Chen. “Basically, you cross two non-GMO, or conventional, soybean lines or varieties to develop new lines.”