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By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
LITTLE ROCK — Low grain prices and dry weather are putting the brakes on he number
of winter wheat acres in Arkansas, said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains
agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Wheat acreage will not be great this year as many producers decided the grain price
was not high enough to plant many acres,” Kelley said. “It is difficult to say the
exact number of acres that are planted now, but I would not expect more than 150,000
to 200,000 acres planted in the state, which is a similar acreage as last year.”
As of Monday, about 90 percent of the state’s winter wheat had been planted, according
to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, with 69 percent of the wheat emerged.
The weekly Crop Report had 44 percent of the crop in good or excellent shape, with
38 percent rated good.
Kelley said there will still may be some wheat planted this later this month as “wheat
can be successfully planted through the month of November, but yields generally decline
if plantings or emergence is delayed into late November.”
2016 is quite a contrast to the wet 2015 planting season.
“The dry weather this fall has allowed ample field work to occur this fall and has
given producers an opportunity to get wheat planted if they wanted to, a much different
story than last year when rains started in late October and prevented many from planting
wheat,” he said. “However the dry weather has also been a curse and has led to spotty
stands due to inadequate soil moisture in some fields. Rainfall is needed to get wheat
up and going across the state.
“Some wheat grown under pivots is being irrigated to achieve good stands,” Kelley
said. “Wheat that emerges in late November or December may not have full yield potential
compared to October emerging wheat due to less time for the plant to tiller.”
Across the northeastern counties of Arkansas, producers have significantly reduced
their acreage of winter wheat compared to previous seasons, with many choosing cereal
rye or other cover crops instead, said Russ Parker, Crittenden County extension agent
for the Division of Agriculture.
Some winter wheat planting was likely nixed in light of the unusually dry weather
in the region — the U.S. Drought Monitor index currently describes about 50 counties
in Arkansas as being in “moderate drought” conditions, with another dozen in “abnormally
dry” conditions, Parker said.
“I’d be shocked if we even had 5,000 acres of winter wheat this year,” Parker said,
noting that growers planted about 60,000 acres of the crop in 2013. “The input prices
are down, so it’s not as expensive as it has been in previous years to plant.
Wheat prices are lower, hovering around $4.50 a bushel or less, “which with good yields
would only be a break-even price,” Kelley said. “Wheat harvest is about seven months
away and a lot of things globally can impact grain prices between now and then, so
hopefully we can see a price rally which would help those out who have planted wheat
“Wheat can be an important crop as it helps provide cash flow at harvest in June and
with a successful double crop soybean crop after harvest, it can provide a profitable
rotation,” he said.
For more information about wheat production, contact your county extension office
or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons 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.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org