As growers struggle to catch up on harvest, commodity futures rise
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Corn growth ahead of norms, but harvest falling behind, according to NASS
- Rain leaves grain moisture too high to harvest.
LITTLE ROCK — As Arkansas producers enjoy a respite from the heavy rains that fell for more than a week throughout much of the state, corn growers in particular are hoping to catch up with a harvest schedule that is quickly leaving them behind.
Jason Kelley, extension feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that corn growth had been ahead of normal for much of the growing season. However, according to a report published Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Arkansas growers have only harvested about 8 percent of all corn planted in the state — well behind the five-year average of 23 percent for this point in the season.
Kelley said that grain moisture has remained high with recent wet weather, and has been too high to sell directly to grain terminals. Growers who have been harvesting tend to be those who own drying equipment, Kelley said.“Timing is everything,” Kelley said. “We just need some dry weather to really begin the corn harvest.”
While the state’s corn harvest has been arrested in mid-stride, the Arkansas rice harvest may yet be stuck in the starting blocks. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said he would be surprised if growers in the state had harvested even the 4 percent of total rice acreage estimated in Monday’s NASS report.
“We went through 10 days of rainfall up and down the entire state, and I haven’t seen a combine move out of a shed in 10 days,” Hardke said. “The first harvest progress we’ve had in 10 days was late last Sunday, with Monday and Tuesday cranking up pretty good. The goal right now is to just harvest whatever rice they can before the next round of rain is due.”
With the exception of northwest Arkansas, most of the state has received significantly higher-than-average rainfall throughout the month of August. In Little Rock, the National Weather Service measured 6.6 inches of rain in the first 19 days of the month alone — more than four times the normal precipitation for that period of time. More than three times the normal rainfall was measured at monitoring points in Harrison, Texarkana, El Dorado and Pine Bluff.
Both Hardke and Kelley warned of potential lodging problems in corn and rice, wherein unharvested crops become saturated and driven over sideways by high winds, causing a “domino effect” across fields.
In Louisiana, the USDA put the statewide number of rain days at six out of seven for the week-long period ending Aug. 21. Many areas of the state experienced rain every day, with Cooperative Extension Service agents in parishes throughout the state reporting flooding that submerged both crops and structures.
While Louisiana’s corn harvest was 93 percent complete and its rice harvest 60 percent complete, much of the state’s agricultural product for 2016 may have been lost. Monday, the Louisiana State University’s Ag Center published a preliminary assessment of the potential economic impact to the state’s agricultural industry due to the rainfall and flooding.
Overall, researchers estimated total losses to the ag sector at more than $110 million, with losses due to yield reduction and replanting costs in nine crops. Costs associated with yield reductions in rice alone were estimated at more than $33.6 million.
About 72,000 acres of Louisiana rice — about 20 percent of all rice acres planted — were not harvested, according to the report.
Similarly, NASS rated about 20 percent of Arkansas rice acres as “poor” due to flooding and other problems, affecting about 300,000 acres.
Hardke said the partial throttling of the region’s rice had resulted in an upswing in September rice futures on the Chicago Board of Trade, driving prices from about $9.60 a bushel to about $10.40.
“That’s not what anyone’s paying in cash right at the moment, but it can be a good indication of what cash prices will do,” Hardke said.
“I don’t think the full story of the market impact will be known until we know how many future acres will be impacted,” He said. “It’s not over yet. As long as those crests are still moving down those rivers, it’s not over. “
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service