Despite this season’s soggy start, Arkansas farmers could set three statewide average yield records in 2014 in corn, cotton and soybeans, the National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday.
The agency said that in Arkansas:
- Soybeans could finish at 48 bushel per acre, up from the 43.5 bushel-per-acre record set last year. Forty-seven bushels is one bushel per acre above last month’s estimate.
- Corn rose two bushels per acre from last month’s estimate to 190 bushels. If that holds, it would be up three from 2013’s 187 bushels per acres, the previous record.
- Cotton was up one pound from last month’s estimate to 1,137 pounds per acre. The previous record was last year’s 1,133 pounds per acre.
If the numbers hold, it would be the third straight record-setting year for corn and soybeans in Arkansas. NASS will release final yield numbers after the first of the year.
Rice was estimated at 7,530 pounds per acre, 30 pounds below last year’s record and sorghum was estimated at 88 bushels per acre, well off last year’s record 102 bushels per acre.
Nationally, corn and soybeans were on track for record yield and production, NASS said. Corn production was expected to reach 14.4 billion bushels this year, up 3 percent from 2013. Soybean production is forecast at 3.96 billion bushels this year, up 18 percent from 2013
Jeremy Ross, soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said he was surprised that NASS bumped the yield up a bushel.
“We’ve had some really good yields,” he said. “If we are at 48, that’s pretty phenomenal.
“Even though we had a wet start the last couple of years, July and August have been outstanding for soybean growth and development,” Ross said. The downside is that most of the soybean-growing states are also reporting good yields, reflected in lower commodity prices most of the summer.
Prices have seen a little rebound back to the $10 range in the fall, but “if we do fall below that $10 range, it’s going to hurt, even though we’re making those high yields,” he said.
Cotton was 86 percent harvested by Nov. 10. In far northeast Arkansas, some 25 percent to 33 percent of the acres have yet to be picked.
For the most part, “what was good for the corn is what kept the cotton guys going and being able to reach that high yield potential,” said Bill Robertson, extension cotton specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
However, intensity and timing storms made life tough for cotton growers in northeastern Arkansas.
“I talked to some of the gins there in Craighead and Mississippi counties and they figured they were going to be a quarter to a third short of the number of bales they were expecting,” he said.
One of the gin managers said the worst part ‘was as bad as we thought it was,’ a lot of acres are picking a bale or less than a bale’.”
Robertson said that in the rest of the state, he was hearing about good fiber quality.