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LITTLE ROCK -- As the 2014 rice and cotton harvests draw to a close, a mild summer
and fall, coupled with heavy rainfall throughout the state, appear to have delivered
surprisingly high yields for both rice and cotton.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Arkansas’ cotton crop was
98 percent harvested, ahead of the five-year average of 93 percent, and rice harvest
was complete, just 1 point ahead of the 99 percent five-year average. Soybeans were
near completion at 96 percent.
Jarrod Hardke, an extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture based at Stuttgart, said record low temperatures in June,
July and August in some areas of the state were a strong force in shaping the 2014
“That really had a significant impact on our overall rice crop, and ultimately, our
yields,” Hardke said. He said significant temperature drops can affect rice crops
in different ways depending on when they occur in the plants’ growing cycle.
“If those very stressful, low temperatures occur just after mid-season, that’s actually
the time when those plants are determining how many grains they’re going to attempt
to create to begin with, and how many branches will be on that panicle,” Hardke said.
“If those conditions occur when we begin to head, and at pollination, it can affect
or inhibit pollination — you have a fertility problem and you can get blanks. There
will be kernels that don’t pollinate, and don’t fill at all.”
The typical window for planting rice throughout the Arkansas Delta region spans from
late March until mid-June, although some fields in 2014 were planted as early as March
10 and as late as July 8, Hardke said. Rice harvest is heavily temperature dependent,
and can range from mid-August to early October, or even beyond, he said.
Despite several periods of unusually low overnight summer temperatures, the ag statistics
service has estimated that the state’s 2014 rice yield at 167.3 bushels per acre,
just shy of 2013’s record-breaking 168 bushels per acre average. Hardke said final
harvest numbers released by NASS in January will reflect any last-minute changes in
Like rice, the state’s cotton crop may also be headed for another record year in 2014.
Extension Service cotton agronomist Bill Robertson said harvest throughout the state
is nearly 100 percent complete, with a state-wide average yield estimated at 1,137
pounds per acre.
“It’s a little surprising,” Robertson said. “We had a rough start, with a cold winter
last year, followed by a cool spring, and we got off to a late start.”
Robertson said heavy rain throughout some areas of the state early in the season diminished
the state’s overall yield, although some fields had produced between 1,500 and 2,000
“We had an extremely good, kind of dry fall, and that really took away the penalty
we usually have for having a late crop,” Robertson said. “A really good fall makes
up for a lot of misfortunes through the year.”
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of 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.
By Ryan McGeeneyCooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org