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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureNov. 16, 2018
(879 words) (Newsrooms: with art https://flic.kr/s/aHskJ9hG8a) (Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – With approximately one-fifth of Arkansas soybean still left to harvest,
producers were struck this week with a cold snap that neither sped nor hindered progress;
it just made things slightly more miserable.
“It’s not helping anything,” said Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, of daytime temperatures that
dipped into the low 30’s across the state.
“If you’ve got high-moisture soybeans, it’s not allowing those beans to dry down as
fast as they would if it were warmer,” Ross said. “It also means the soil doesn’t
dry out as quickly. A lot of guys are having to rut up fields just to get the beans
Ross said daytime temperatures would have to be below freezing for several days in
a row before the topsoil would harden enough to overcome the current state of affairs
— soil softened and saturated after weeks of intermittent rains.
Ross said that a silver lining to the week’s temperatures is that they will typically
retard any fungal growth occurring on beans still in the field.
Both Ross and Scott Stiles, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture, said
that growers are unlikely to leave any soybeans unharvested, unless they’re submerged
by late-season rains or completely flattened by some other weather anomaly.
“In my opinion, growers will go ahead and harvest the remaining acres,” Stiles said,
noting that more than 700,000 acres of Arkansas soybean remains to be harvested, based
on the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report.
“The Market Facilitation Program payments will likely drive that decision,” he said. “The
MFP payments are made on actual production. I think every attempt will be made to
maximize the $1.65 per bushel subsidy from MFP.”
Soybean futures prices for the ‘18 crop are still below $9 per bushel, Stiles said,
although basis — the difference between the cash price paid and the futures price
for a commodity — is improving as growers move into the last quarter of the harvesting
calendar. Soybeans futures contracts for January 2019 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange
— commonly referred to as the CME — settled at $8.88 ¾ per bushel on Thursday, up
5 ¼ cents for the day.
Heavy quality discounts from buyers are still pervasive, however.
“One grower mentioned to me this week having a field of soybeans that were discounted
$1.10 per bushel,” Stiles said. “So even as we’ve gotten to the later maturing fields,
the heavy discounts are still an issue. The frequent rains lately are not helpful.”
Stiles said that some elevators were refusing soybeans that were above 15.5 percent
moisture, and exhibited 10 percent or more damage.
“In response, growers are storing a lot more soybeans on-farm this winter,” he said.
“Generally, corn and rice would be the crops that go into bins. Lots of storage has
been allocated to soybeans following the 2018 harvest.”
Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said
the last leg of the state’s cotton harvest is moving slowly as well.
“In east Arkansas, we still have a few producers with 200-300 acres remaining,” Robertson
said. “That doesn’t sound like much, but with short days and wet, muddy fields, progress
is very slow.”
Most of the cotton remaining to be harvested in Arkansas is in the southwestern portion
of the state. Robertson said many producers are relying on custom harvesters — independent
contractors with specialized equipment — because while cotton acreage continues to
expand in the southwest, “the jury is still out, regarding investing in harvest equipment,”
Overall cotton yield is continuing to fall as plant deterioration increases, Robertson
“Reductions in fiber quality, especially color, is having a tremendous impact on lint
value,” he said.
Effects into 2019
Ross said that preliminary germination tests for 2019 soybean seed, conducted by the
Arkansas State Plant Board, point to a low-quality start for growers next year.
“The handful of samples they’ve tested up to this point, the average germ has been
lower than it has been in several years, and the accelerated aging average is a lot
lower,” Ross said. He said that with lower germination potential, soybean growers
will need to plant more seeds per acre to achieve yield goals, driving up input costs
and making other commodities look comparably more attractive.
“It looks like we’ll have more cotton next year because of the price,” Ross said.
“Soybeans are down some, so we may lose some acreage to cotton and to corn, depending
on what the price is.”
Whether the increased need for soybean seed per acre leads to short-term scarcity
will depend on how growers allocate their fields, both Ross and Stiles said.
“Seed availability may not be an issue if the United States cuts soybean acreage by
4 million or so in 2019,” Stiles said. “That’s a very realistic possibility. I feel
positive we’ll see more corn, rice, cotton next year in Arkansas. Those crops will
steal acres from soybeans. It’s near impossible to see any significant improvement
in soybean prices by next spring, with or without a trade resolution with China. US
soybean supplies are just massive, there’s no other way to describe it.”
To learn about Arkansas row crops, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
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.
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Media Contact: Ryan McGeeneyCommunication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_McG44