Exploring Arkansas During Harvest Season

Recently we were assigned to work in a teeny-tiny town in Eastern Arkansas, well, that is if you don’t compare it to the tiny town we live in.

DeWitt Barn 1

Interesting looking barn we drive past on the way to work every day.

DeWitt, Arkansas was founded in the 1800s and boasted a census of 3,292 in 2010. DeWitt is a sleepy farming town that is like every other small town in America with one exception…..harvest time. The town comes alive with tractors, combines, workers, big trucks filled with various crops and all sorts of farming equipment that we have absolutely no name for or idea what its used for. (My favorite unidentified farming object is affectionately known as the giant rolling pin if that gives you an idea.)

Farmers in this area have been planting and harvesting crops for years. The number one crop for farmers in this area is rice. Driving into town you will pass fields as far as you can see filled with flooded rice crops. This grass grows bright green and as it gets closer to harvest the rice matures to a bright yellow color.

DeWitt Rice 2

DeWitt Rice 1

Unharvested mature rice fields.

Some interesting facts about Arkansas Rice:

  • Arkansas is ranked number one in the six major rice-producing states.
  • 48% of the rice that is grown within the US is grown right here in Arkansas.
  • 1.3 million acres of rice is planted yearly across the state, primarily in the eastern counties of Arkansas, Poinsett, Cross, Lawrence and Lonoke. DeWitt is smack dab in the middle of Arkansas county.
  • Rice is the second highest commodity and top agricultural export for the state. Who knew!

We stopped dead in the middle of the road for pictures of the combines harvesting the rice. Don’t worry….there’s not enough traffic to worry about it. Unless you count tractors.

DeWitt Rice Combine 2

DeWitt Rice Combine 3

Poor guy looked at us like we were crazy. He was probably thinking “city folks”! We did the normal Southern thing and just waved real big.

This area of the state also plants a lot of corn (not the sweet, delicious, covered in butter variety we all know and love but the kind known as yellow dent corn). Initially, not knowing it wasn’t sweet corn, my first question was “why are they just letting their corn die?”

DeWitt Corn 2

DeWitt Corn

DeWitt After Corn Harvest

Field after the corn harvest.

My friend Google told me that yellow dent corn is left on the stalk as long as possible so it has time to dry out. It’s a risk to allow the corn to dry in this manner because of problems that could arise when it is finally sufficiently dried enough for harvest, like a monsoon. Not that we have those here. The corn could be harvested earlier if the farmer chooses to but then they’d have to spend money on propane for their dryers so the moisture content gets to where it needs to be but why waste all that money?!?!

The last interesting crop that we saw was sorghum. Sorghum, or as some call it, milo that is planted here is primarily used for grain. They don’t plant a whole lot of the sweet sorghum that is used to make sorghum molasses. While this crop is not nearly a popular as the others it is increasing. Last year roughly 165,000 acres were planted.

DeWitt After Sorghum Harvest_edited-1

Here’s the aftermath of the sorghum harvest.

Last crop (the not so interesting one) is soybeans. They won’t harvest the crop until later this year and the plants are still fairly young right now.

Fun facts about soybeans:

  • Arkansas is 10th in the nation for soybean production.
  • 140 million bushels are harvested per year.
  • Annual revenue for soybean is $2 BILLION!

DeWitt Soybeans

Last tidbit of information about the town of DeWitt…..it was featured in the movie Mud starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon in 2012. Wish I’d have known that when they were filming……

DeWitt Old House

This house isn’t anything special but it caught my eye and turned out to be my favorite of the “DeWitt” series.

 

 

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