UACES Facebook NASS Acreage report for Arkansas: Sorghum sinks, cotton rebounds, rice gains ground
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NASS Acreage report for Arkansas: Sorghum sinks, cotton rebounds, rice gains ground

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture 
June 30, 2016

Fast Facts:

  • Grain sorghum acres planted drop to 40K from 450K last year
  • Cotton rebounds, exceeds ‘Prospective Plantings’ forecast

(1,083 words)

(Newsrooms: SUBS 18th graf with 3 grafs to INSERT comment from soybean agronomist; SUBS 19th graf pvs to restore reference to Stiles; with file art at: Table with figures:,  

Sorghum:, rice:, Cotton:, Soybeans:, Peanuts:   

JONESBORO, Ark. – Arkansas sorghum acres evaporated, soybean acres rose on a late-inning price rally, and rice gained acres thanks to lower fuel and fertilizer prices and in spite of flat-ish new crop futures, Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said Thursday.


2016 Arkansas Acreage figures
FIGURES -- Figures from the June 30, 2016, USDA "Acreage" report. 

The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Thursday released its 2016 “Acreage” report showing how many acres were planted of each crop. It’s the planting season bookend to the March 31 “Prospective Plantings” report, which forecast the number of acres of major crops planted in Arkansas and the rest of the nation.  

Overall, the number of acres planted in principal crops in Arkansas rose to 7.28 million acres, up from last year’s 7.11 million, but down from 2014’s 7.46 million. 

  • CORN – Corn acreage leapt to 750,000 acres in 2016, up from last year’s 460,000 acres. The “Acreage” report figure is down from the “Prospective Plantings” report which forecast 790,000 acres.  

“That’s probably about right – we had some difficulty getting the corn planted,” said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the Division of Agriculture. One of the up sides to corn is “we’ve got a lot of weed control options. About the time when growers were having to decide between corn and soybeans, there was a lot of talk about PPO-resistant pigweed. I think that affected the corn acres in Arkansas to some degree.” 

  • COTTON – Cotton rebounded from its lowest-ever acreage -- 210,000 acres in 2015 -- by 76 percent to this year’s 370,000 acres. Cotton exceeded the “Prospective Plantings” forecast of 330,000 acres, rising to its highest level since 2012. 

“It is exciting to see cotton acres rebound to just slightly above the levels we had in 2014,” said Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture. “This is a step in the right direction for cotton in Arkansas. 

“Another step in the right direction was the cost-share assistance payments to cotton producers through the new Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program that was recently announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. It was implemented to help to expand and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton,” he said. “Cotton is important to the local economies in the Delta. Assistance directed towards cotton pays dividends to those on and off the farm.” 

  • PEANUTS – The 2016 growing season was the first time Arkansas was counted among the nation’s peanut growers. The state clocked in with 20,000 acres. 
  • RICE – Acres planted for short, medium and long-grain rice increased to 1.58 million from last year’s 1.3 million. Long grain rice dominated the fields with 1.43 million, up from 1.06 million in 2015. 

Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture said he was surprised that the acreage remained static between the “Prospective Plantings” report and Thursday’s “Acreage.” 

“Based on the rapid pace of planting and observations around the state throughout the season, I expected acreage had increased above my March prediction of 1.6 million to 1.65 million acres,” he said, adding that, “1.58 million acres still represents a 23 percent increase over 2015 acreage and represents the fifth largest rice acreage in Arkansas history. It would also be the highest since a state record of 1.785 million acres in 2010.” 

Stiles said that “new crop rice futures were relatively flat year over year and averaged $11.13 per hundredweight during the first quarter. Lower fuel and fertilizer prices this spring helped rice returns as well.”   

Weather gave growers a hand with the planting pace remaining well ahead of the five-year average until planting was complete. Many of 2015’s 270,000 “prevented planting” rice acres returned to rice with the crop gaining 275,000 acres this year.   

  • GRAIN SORHGUM – Grain sorghum took a precipitous drop from 450,000 acres in 2015 to 40,000 acres in 2016. The figure was well below the March forecast of 140,000 acres. 

“Sorghum prices are well below last year,” Stiles said. Last year, new crop basis on the Mississippi River was 70 cents above futures, but is currently 40 cents below. “That $1.10 per bushel swing in basis accounts for the majority of the decrease year over year in sorghum bids,” he said. “The weaker basis could be attributed to slower export demand. China is our No. 1 export market for sorghum and exports to China are running 18 percent below a year ago.” 

“The two big reasons for that huge, huge drop were the economics of the crop and the presence of sugarcane aphids, which were really weighing on the minds of our producers,” Kelley said. “You’ve got to have a good price to make a profit.” 

  • SOYBEANS – Soybean acreage dropped slightly to 3.15 million from last year’s 3.2 million acres planted. The figure is up from March’s 3.05-million-acre forecast. Neither Stiles nor Extension Soybean Agronomist Jeremy Ross were surprised. 

“I was thinking that the June ‘Acreage’ report would show more soybean acreage than was reported, but I think the estimate is very close,” Ross said. “Some of this shift is due to the better-than-anticipated prices for soybean and the production problems that South America has experienced over the last few months.  

He added that “it will be interesting to watch the weather pattern in the Midwest over the next two months to see it will affect yields. If a favorable weather pattern occurs, the U.S. could have a record soybean crop. If this happens, no telling how far soybean prices could drop.”  

“Since trading to a low of $8.68 on March 2, the November futures contract has traded as high as $11.86 on June 13,” Stiles said. “A price surge of over $3 per bushel was a complete surprise. Given the magnitude of the rally, it appeared obvious that soybeans would pick up some additional acres.”  Why the rally? The South American soybean crop was off this year, particularly in Argentina. More export demand has been diverted to the U.S. and in-turn ending stocks have tightened considerably. 

  • WINTER WHEAT – Winter wheat dropped as well, from 350,000 acres in 2015 to 200,000 acres in 2016. Winter wheat acres planted were also below the March forecast, which was 220,000 acres. 

Nationally, soybean plantings hit a record high of 83.7 million acres, up 1 percent from the previous year. Corn was at its third-highest acreage since 1944 at 94.1 million acres, up 7 percent from the previous year. Cotton acreage grew across the country by 17 percent to 10 million acres. Wheat plantings of all types fell 7 percent to 50.8 million acres. 

For more information about crop production, visit or contact your county extension office.  


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 System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126