Record rainfall totals impact farmers

FOX24

Parts of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley seeing record-breaking rainfall.

LOWELL, Ark. (KFTA) – “I’m 94-years-old and I’ve never seen a year like this in Northwest Arkansas,” Fred Vanzant said.

Vanzant is the owner of Vanzant Fruit Farm and has been since 1949. He grows fruits like concord grapes, apples, and pumpkins but peaches are his cash crop.

“Since that day we had only lost about six or seven peach crops completely but the last two years its been quite different,” Vanzant said.

This year Vanzant says he’s had to put up a fight with mother nature.

“Ordinarily you could do a lot of planning – well there wasn’t a lot of planning this year,” Vanzant said.

That’s because of all the rain we’ve seen. So far in 2019 – the total rainfall collected at Drake Field in Fayetteville is nearly 64 inches – making it the fifth wettest year so far.

In the River Valley – the total rainfall collected at Fort Smith Regional Airport is a little over 66 and a half inches – making it the third wettest year so far.

Drenching Vanzant’s farm, washing out his herbicides. “If you’re using a contact spray and you spray it in 30 minutes it rains -you just threw out a lot of money,” Vanzant said.

Even delaying the start to his pumpkin patch.”We grew quite a few pumpkins in a weed patch – it turned out okay but it could’ve been better if hadn’t rain so much,” Vanzant said.

While the rain did cause a couple of headaches for Vanzant, it did bring some good. “We did lose some of our peaches but we’ve had a nice apple crop,” Vanzant said.

The 94-year-old Navy veteran says it was a year of learning – “It’s been a dog fight but it’s turned out better than you might’ve imagined,” Vanzant said. Finding the right time to harvest his produce – because as he says – you can’t raise fruit in a swamp.

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