Page images
[ocr errors]

the storm water of this county, as well as Lincoln and Jefferson Counties. It can readily be seen that our problem would not be so distressing if we were not required to take care of the storm water from the other counties, and, as has been stated, all of this storm water must be diverted by canals, since the outlets to the Mississippi River have been closed.

Lands that are well drained, that are in cultivation, and that have outlets to schools and markets will sell today for $100 per acre, though there may be adjoining lands where water has been impounded that cannot be sold for $5 per acre, though the soil chemistry will show that the lands are identical except for drainage. This drainage situation could be completely changed by affording outlets for drainage in the lower end of this county.

I wish to call your attention to another factor that affects all of Desha County; that is, that prior to 1942 the Government owned a large body of land in the vicinity of Rohwer, Ark. Under the direction of the War Relocation Authority two large drainage laterals were cut which diverted the water from this area into canal 81. This construction of these ditches by the Government has impounded additional water into the bottleneck above referred to, and while these wild lands owned by the Government have been greatly benefited, it has been done at the expense of the people who have already put their wild lands into cultivation and today these farms will remain damaged until the drainage outlets have been completed. Even that branch of the Government that is trying to solve our flood-control problems with the construction and maintenance of levees suffers great losses because our roads are impassable until the storm waters have found an outlet.

The present landowners did not emigrate here with full knowledge of the existence of this defective drainage system. Most of the present landowners in this area acquired their lands under the belief that the drainage system which was constructed at the time of the closing of the Cypress Creek gap would be adequate. They now find that, due to the silting up of this drainage system, and because of excessive waters being dumped into the system from above, that this system is now inadequate and that no additional lands may be opened up, and no road construction attempted, until the drainage problem has been solved.


FOR DESHA COUNTY Mr. WYLIE. Desha County, Ark., is composed of 11 political townships, and 10 of these townships are south of the Arkansas River and west of the Mississippi River. All of the excess storm water must be carried away in ditches and the natural streams since all inlets to the rivers have been closed by the levee on the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers. The Cypress Creek drainage district was created for this purpose, but due to inadequate outlets and the present ditches that are too small, it does not do the job.

The northern and western side of Desha County has the highest elevation and the best natural drainage in the county. Six of the political townships are located in this area, and they comprise the largest percent of the cultivated acreage to the total land area. These

six townships' contain approximately 201,600 acres with 103,758.9 acres in cultivation. This gives approximately 51 percent of the total area in cultivation. The other four eastern and southern townships contain approximately 100,480 acres with only 23,239.1 acres in cultivation. This is approximately 23 percent of the total land in cultivation. This difference is caused by the natural streams and ditches overflowing or not being able to get the storm water away quickly enough to keep this land from being covered with water during rainy seasons. The following two tables taken from the 1944 Agricultural Adjustment Administration farm plan sheets show a comparison of the total acreage and cropland in the six better-drained townships and the poorly drained townships.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Approximately 302,080 acres of land are protected by levees in the southern part of Desha County. At least 272,000 acres of this land is suitable for crops and is very fertile if adequately drained.

The principal type of soil found on these poorly drained lands is dark buckshot that is very fertile and the land makes excellent yields the years that we do not have excessive rainfall. However, when we do have excessive rainfall this section is flooded and the crops are drowned out or the planting cannot take place until too late in the season.

The department of agronomy of the College of Agriculture, University of Arkansas, analyzed this buckshot soil and found that it contains a high percentage of nitrogen, is low in phosphate and high in potash. These are the three basic plant-food elements and the high yields produced on this land in favorable years bear out this analysis. In 1943 much of this land produced over 500 pounds of lint cotton per acre.

The heavier type soils of Desha County are well suited for the production of alfalfa where enough drainage can be secured so that

the plants are not drowned out. These soils contain a high percent of calcium in the topsoil and also in the subsoil. With adequate drainage, the alfalfa acreage could be increased to 50,000 acres in this county where we now have less than 2,000 acres.

Cotton has always been the leading crop in Desha County and is suitable to all soil types of the county. If we had adequate drainage, acreage could be increased by clearing new land, and also the 10-year average production per acre would be increased because farmers would be able to plant their crop earlier on the heavy land. Experiment station results show that cotton planted before April 20 outyields the cotton planted after that date. The cotton acreage for Desha County in 1943 was 43,692 and this acreage produced 35,971 bales. This was an extra good year for our poorly drained land and one of the best, crops ever produced in comparison to the number of acres in cultivation.

Corn is not as stable a crop as cotton for Desha County and in wet years production is usually very low. This is because the corn is unable to develop a root system that can secure enough moisture during the dry spells that usually follow a wet spring. The land cannot be put in a good state of cultivation because the silt soil usually becomes water logged and very tight so that the roots cannot penetrate deep enough before the soil begins to crack open and tear off the roots. Under favorable conditions excellent corn yields have been obtained, but taking the 10-year average the distribution is low.

The production of oats has increased steadily for the past 10 years, and in 1944, over 12,000 acres of oats were planted in the county. The buckshot land in the county produced excellent yields of oats when the winter and spring rains do not drown them out. Yields of 75 bushels per acre were common in the county in 1944 where stands survived.

Most of the soil of Desha County will produce vegetables and the WRA at Rohwer has demonstrated this very effectively. In 1942 one man produced 84,000 pounds of tomatoes on 2 acres, and we have 50,000 acres of land in the county that would produce vegetables just as good as the acres that have been planted.

The production of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 1933 in Desha County. In 1935, 9,303 head of cattle were found in the county and over 16,000 head of cattle are in the county at present. The soil in the county produces excellent grasses and legumes for grazing, and practically all of the land can be used for pasture part of the year. Levees and ditch banks are some of our best pastures at present. Farmers are taking advantage of this well-drained land and most of this land is used for pasturing livestock.

Farmers are unable to get full benefit from winter pastures, especially in the poor-drained soils. The fields become so wet and muddy that the farmers have to keep their livestock off of the land because of the damage they would do to the pasture. This increases the wintering cost which could be lowered by full utilization of winter pastures.

In many places the feed lots get so deep in mud that in some instances cattle have bogged and have had to be pulled out while in the feed lot. This muddy, wet condition does not allow full utilization of the feed to the animal, and drainage of the lots is very hard to accomplish because there is no place to empty the storm water.

a practically allo duces excellente in the

1. not be able crop failure om produce au sa

The rural population of Desha County has increased in percentage as much as that of any other county in the State from 1930 to 1940, and most of this increase has been in the section of the county that has the highest elevation and has the best drainage. The increase in the amount of cropland has been in proportion to the increase in population. In 1930 the rural population was 18,326, and in 1940 23,497. This is 29.2 percent increase. Practically all of the high land of the county is in cultivation, and many acres of the land that is drowned out in wet years is also in crops. Without further drainage, however, it will be hard for farmers to produce a satisfactory income from this land because crop failure will occur in wet years and small farmers will not be able to carry on under existing conditions.

According to the 1930 census the total acres of cropland in Desha County was 71,529, and at the present time 152,000 acres are in cultivation. "Practically all of the land has been cleared that is not too hazardous for crop production on account of poor drainage. Without proper drainage some of the land that has been cleared will be abandoned. Much of it could not be worked in 1945 due to the flood condition.

Desha County has approximately 125,000 acres of land to be cleared. This is good fertile land and land that young men can build homes on and pay for these homes by crops produced. If this 125,000 acres of land is drained this would make a place for 1,500 additional farm families that could move into the county and have enough land to farm with units large enough to produce high standards of living.

The farm owners of Desha County are willing and anxious to construct the lateral ditches leading into the main arteries. In 1942, 202 miles of lateral ditches were constructed by the landowners. These ditches have not been effective because the main arteries would not take the water away rapidly enough. These main arteries are too small, they have inadequate outlets and the bayous 'are filled with debris. The lack of drainage is the only thing that is keeping Desha County from being developed.


COUNTY, ARK. Mr. WILLIAMS. I have been county judge of Desha County for over 10 years. During that time it has been my obligation to construct, repair, and drain the county roads.

In a very large portion of the county, adjacent to the main canals, the lack of drainage has made our county roads impassable for as much as 5 months in some years. Large sections of the county roads are completely covered with water, following excessive rains, because of the fact the main outlets for the storm waters are insufficient to allow the roads to be drained. The county has lost large sums of money where these county roads have been graveled, because the roadbed has become completely saturated, and any traffic on the road at that time causes the gravel to sink and the road to be destroyed. Many of our bridges are inundated during excessive wet spells.

No great losses are sustained, by wet weather, excepting those periods when the canals are overtaxed.

Until the outlets of the main drainage canals have been enlarged, it will be impossible to maintain a system of roads within the affected

rainagerming sereater nas ha imprimation be like as in this sovill be

areas. If these canals were enlarged so that the storm waters would get away, this county would soon develop a system of roads, adequate for the use of all of the farmers in the county.

The lack of roads causes many people who have moved into the county to become discouraged and move away. Also, the lack of roads causes gret damage in transporting labor to the farms, and, likewise, the transporting of crops and the like.

During the past 2 years, on account of the increased burden that has been placed upon our inadequate drainage system, the matter of building and maintaining roads has become steadily worse. STATEMENT OF HOWARD L. CLAYTON, SHERIFF, DESHA

COUNTY, ARK. Mr. CLAYTON. My name is Howard L. Clayton. I reside at Arkansas City, Ark. I am now, and have been for several years, the sheriff and collector for Desha County. I own 2,000 acres of farm lands, most of which lie along ditch 81 of the Cypress Creek drainage district.

I raise cotton, corn, oats, and hay crops. Since I have cleared my lands the drainage outlets for Cypress Creek floodwaters have become so silted up that I suffer great losses each year. The Cypress Creek drainage system is inadequate to handle the floodwaters during the early farming season of each year. If the drainage conditions were improved, the greater portion of this county would soon be put into cultivation, as the lands have demonstrated that cotton, corn, hay, oats, and the like can be produced in great abundance.

All of the lands in the eastern part of this county have practically the same soil chemistry, so I am told by soil chemists. Further development of farm lands will be greatly hindered until the drainage outlets have been completed.

In my official capacity I am required to visit all of the communities in this county, and I find that roads in many places have become impassable and all of the roads in this county suffer great loss for lack of drainage. The lands cannot be cultivated with farm machinery successfully because the lands remain wet for such a long period that very few farmers are able to do all of their farming by machinery.

Our State is undertaking to consolidate school districts so that our educational system may be improved. We have so many small districts that it is found to be a waste of money to maintain these small districts. This county cannot meet the State requirements until roads have been built so that the school children can be transported by busses. The lack of drainage makes the construction of these roads impossible.

I wish to call your attention to another factor that has been very damaging to the agricultural lands in the southeast portion of this county; that is, the War Relocation Authority constructed drainage canals emptying into ditch 81, and since ditch 81 does not have a sufficient outlet the lands south of the War Relocation Authority center are damaged by reason of the construction of these canals. These canals were dug in the vicinity of Rohwer, Ark. Within the past 2 years and since the completion of the War Relocation Authority drainage ditches, ditch 81 overflows 500 acres of my cultivated lands. In 1944 I lost 200 acres of oats and 200 acres of hay. In 1945 I lost 125 acres of oats and 25 bales of cotton from the overflow of ditch 81.

« PreviousContinue »