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Big Black up 23 feet from same date last year

[7/8/04]A summer of record rains is pushing the Big Black River out of its banks and frustrating farmers for whom the stream usually poses no threat.

Big Black, which forms much of Warren County’s eastern border, is rising toward a crest Friday the National Weather Service estimates will reach 33 feet on the river gauge at Bovina. Flood stage is 28 feet on that gauge, but for comparison, the stage a year ago today was 9.9 feet.

Three who farm in the Big Black’s flood plain, Roy Goode of Clinton and Edward Mahalitc and Danny Jones, both of Warren County, said the river bears watching.

Goode said he lost about 120 acres of cotton to an earlier flood and replanted that area in soybeans after the water went down. The latest flood had already gotten to about 30 or 40 acres.

With the crest prediction, “I’ll probably lose that 120 acres again,” Goode said.

In all, he said he farms a total of about 1,000 acres and the loss represents about 10 percent of the total.

Mahalitc had planted corn on the 650 acres or so he farms and the earlier flood cost him about 150 acres. That land was then replanted in soybeans.

“If it crests at 33 feet, all I’ll have is a lake, that 150 acres will be under water,” he said.

The high water is not hurting Jones just yet as the land he farms off Mississippi 27 is higher than some of the other land near the Big Black. Jones said he lost about 50 acres of corn earlier this year but he didn’t try to replant so there won’t be much of a loss this time.

Rare weather patterns have been the norm for 2004. Late spring rains in the Upper Mississippi Basin resulted in a forecast of a June rise on the Lower Mississippi that would destroy crops or delay planting. Flooding from that rise, however, was minimal.

Last month’s 11.3 inches of rain measured in Vicksburg established an all-time record 1.3 inches higher than the previous record and compares to a normal rate of 3 inches in June.

So far this year, rain has measured 45 inches in Vicksburg, more than a foot more than an average year’s 30.8 inches by this date.