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Crop Circles

Crop circles are a relatively recent phenomenon in Arkansas, appearing in northeastern Arkansas wheat fields in 2003. As elsewhere, the origin of the patterns remains a mystery, with theories ranging from hoaxes to aliens’ attempts at communication.

Crop circles are geometric patterns, sometimes simple and other times astonishingly complex, that appear in fields of wheat, barley, rye, and other crops. The formations are created by a flattening of the stalks of grain; in the more refined crop circles, the grain is somehow bent rather than broken. Crop circles have been reported as far back as the late seventeenth century in England, but it was an outbreak in England in the 1970s which brought the phenomenon worldwide attention. Thousands of formations have been reported across the globe, and though a number of them have been confirmed as hoaxes, many believe that crop circles are created by extraterrestrials or other paranormal entities, given the level of complexity (such as the principles of sacred geometry and fractals) exhibited in many. Some investigators believe that freak wind patterns or plasma vortices might create crop circles.

The first crop circle in Arkansas was discovered on June 10, 2003, in a wheat field near Knobel (Clay County) belonging to farmer Todd Young. It consisted of a series of ten circles—one large circle about thirty-one feet in diameter with nine decreasing in size spiraling away from it in three “arms.” Young harvested the wheat before researchers had a chance to investigate the formation, though a team from BLT Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, later visited the site and reported high concentrations of magnetic material in the soil.

On May 26, 2004, a “pinwheel” formation with seven arms was reported in a Peach Orchard (Clay County) wheat field. It measured approximately 166 feet in diameter and was situated near the center of the forty-acre field. On June 14, 2007, another crop circle appeared, this time in a field near Delaplaine (Greene County). This formation consisted of three interlocking circles placed inside a larger circle. Though it appeared to be rougher than the other two, with part of it apparently unfinished, it also reportedly featured characteristics common to other crop circles—such as interwoven blades of wheat—that speak to a high level of sophistication.

The three circles discovered so far in Arkansas form a trail going from northeast to southwest. No one has yet claimed credit for their creation.

For additional information:
Heard, Kenneth. “Crop Circles in Arkansas Flummox Farmers, Visitors.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. August 6, 2007, pp. 1A–2A.

Inman, Keith. “Knobel Man Finds Signs of Mischief.” Jonesboro Sun. June 11, 2003, p. 1B.

Talbot, Nancy. “Arkansas Crop Circle.” (accessed August 6, 2007).

———. “New Crop Circle in Arkansas.” (accessed August 6, 2007).

Guy Lancaster
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 2/13/2008

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