Probably not a record year for Arkansas soybeans, but production still steady; a harder year for winter wheat
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dec. 11, 2015
- Soybean yields look to remain high, if not record-breaking for 2015
- Total winter wheat production falls by almost half
LITTLE ROCK — 2015 is unlikely to prove a record year for Arkansas soybean production, experts at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said, but don’t count the cash crop as down and out, either.
Despite heavy flooding in both the Arkansas River Valley and the Mississippi River, along with delayed planting and temperature fluctuations throughout the year, Arkansas soybean production will likely remain close to previous years’ levels.
Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said that although 2015 may not be a record-breaking year for soybean harvest, growers managed to endure a year of harsh conditions with relatively little loss overall.
“It was a tough year, with all the wet weather we had early,” Ross said. “There was late planting and isolated flooding. And once we got into late June and July, the Mississippi River came up and flooded tens of thousands of acres that had already been planted — and that’s where most of our beans are planted, on the eastern side of the state.
“So there were pockets that got hit pretty hard. Some of those farmers tried to replant, but they were so late that the yields were just off — it was July, August before they were able to get stuff planted. Not only because of the late planting, but July and August were also really hot and dry.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service originally calculated the state’s 2014 average soybean yield at 50 bushels per acre in January, but recently adjusted that estimate to 49.5 bushels per acre. Although a Nov. 1 forecast from NASS places Arkansas’s 2015 yield at 51 bushels per acre, Ross said the final numbers will likely reflect a lower yield.
“Some guys did a little better than last year, some guys did as well,” Ross said. “But talking to farmers, a majority of them, their yields are off. It’s just the late planting plus the hot, dry July and August.”
According NASS data, growers yielded approximately 3.16 million acres of soybeans in 2015.
Flooding and rains had a significantly stronger effect on the state’s winter wheat crop. Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said conditions led to significant drop-off from 2014’s record yields.
“March, April and May were very wet,” Kelley said. “Any time we have a wet spring, oftentimes we’ll have lower yields, just because of poor drainage in many fields. We also lost several acres to flooding along the Arkansas and Red Rivers.”
According to a Sep. 30 NASS crop production report, approximately 350,000 acres of winter wheat was planted in Arkansas this fall, down from 465,000 acres the previous year. About 240,000 acres were harvested this year, with an average yield of 56 bushels per acre (down from a record 63 bushels-per-acre yield), and a total production of 13.44 million bushels — just over half the approximately 24.89 million bushel total for 2014.
“If you look at the 10-year average yield, 56 bushels per acre would be about average,” Kelley said. “The weather we have during March through May has a great impact on wheat yield.”
To learn more about commodity crops in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension agent or visit www.uaex.edu.
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