Delta farmers fear lower profits with backwater flooding

Delta farmers fear lower profits with backwater flooding

MISSISSIPPI DELTA, MS (WLBT) - More bad news for the Mississippi Delta, which is already impacted by flooding.

Experts now say it could be worse than expected, with backwater flooding rising to 97.5 feet. That’s the highest it’s been since 1973. Nearly 500 thousand acres of Mississippi farmland are underwater.

Farmer John Phillips says 75 percent of his land will be inundated by waters from flooding in the Yazoo backwater.

Road closures in place due to flooding. (SOURCE: Jason White)
Road closures in place due to flooding. (SOURCE: Jason White)

John Phillips said, “If you can see far enough on the other end of that field, it’s out of water, but you can’t plant it cause this ends underwater and you’re scared to plant that cause it will go underwater.”

Losing a planted crop to a flood is the worst situation, so now farmers just wait, but time is running out.

To insure corn, it has to be planted by April 25.

“First of all, you’re looking at a limitation of what you can plant," said Phillips. “We intended to plant corn, which we’re probably not going to get to plant any. Now we got a new crop mix. We don’t want to plant all soybeans, soybeans aren’t as profitable as corn.”

Later planting means lower yields and profits.

Phillips says he supports building a pump system to keep floods like this from repeating themselves.

“Backwater flooding is devastating to the wildlife, to the community, to the jobs, to the people that we hire, to people trying to make a living here," he said. "There’s no benefit in backwater flooding none, and the pump is the only solution.”

Yazoo backwater flooding
Yazoo backwater flooding (Source: david kenney)

With the Mississippi set to crest next week, new information suggests it could then fall and rise again, sustaining that level for almost four weeks. That would pushing planting well into April for farmers, who are watching water levels closely as they relate to their bottom line.

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