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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureOct. 16, 2018
(793 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – Heavy rains covering much of Arkansas, beginning late last week and
continuing through the weekend, have further slowed harvest for both cotton and soybeans,
and are already causing significant discounts in payout to growers, experts with the
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said Monday.
According to a Monday report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural
Statistics Service, 44 percent of the state’s soybean acres have been harvested, compared
to the five-year average of 60 percent by this point in the season. Cotton, having
enjoyed a strong start earlier in the season, remains far ahead of the five-year average
of 42 percent, sitting Monday at 67 percent harvested.
The Oct. 11 USDA Crop Production Report downgraded the state’s soybean yield estimate,
from 50 bushels per acre on Sept. 1 to 48 bushels per acre on Oct. 1. Overall production
is forecast to drop to 156 million bushels in 2018, from 178.5 million in 2017. Nationwide,
soybean production is forecast to rise to about 4.69 billion bushels in 2018, up from
about 4.41 billion bushels in 2017.
Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said that
even as the 2018 harvest slowly catches up to the state’s five-year average, ongoing
weather events are taking a bite out of farmers’ pockets.
“Early-planted beans, which would normally be harvested about the first week of September,
were delayed by two to three weeks,” Ross said. “With the wet conditions and above-average
daily temperatures, we started to see a lot of quality issues.”
Ross said grain buyers are reporting anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent damage
in soybeans, resulting in discounts as high as $1.25-$1.50 per bushel — a significant,
possibly devastating financial bite, depending on how a given grower marketed his
or her crop.
“If a farmer got their beans booked at $10 the first of the year — that’s down to
$8.50,” Ross said. “But if they’re trying to sell it at the current $8 range, now
you’re talking as low as $6.50.
“Prices are reduced already because of trade tariffs and depressed commodity prices,
so this was just another thing farmers really didn’t need,” he said.
The problem is bigger than Arkansas. Ross said researchers and agronomists in Louisiana
and Mississippi have reported similar or even worse conditions for soybeans in their
respective states. Growers in Kentucky, Tennessee, southern Ohio, Iowa and elsewhere
are also experiencing delays in harvest and associated downgrades in quality.
Ongoing trade tariffs are also reducing demand for U.S. soybeans abroad.
“The problem right now is that there’s really no buyers for the beans that are coming
off,” Ross said. “Bean stocks are backing up at the ports, and the elevators are almost
at their capacity for grain storage, with no place for it to go. It’s just a bad situation.”
Scott Stiles, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture, said the weather
and trade tariffs are just two ingredients in a challenging marketplace for growers
“A lot of things are happening at one time – none of which are good,” Stiles said.
“We saw the November futures contract peak in late May at $10.60, and then drop 23
percent to a low of $8.12 by mid-September. The last time the November contract traded
that low was in March 2009. Basis has been the weakest since 2008 – this is the difference
between the local cash price and the futures price.”
In late July, USDA announced a trade mitigation assistance program that will offer
some relief to growers in the form of direct payments of $1.65 per bushel on 50 percent
of harvested yield. An announcement on any additional payments for the remaining 50
percent of production could be made in early December. Farmers have until Jan. 15,
2019, to sign up for his program, which is called the Market Facilitation Program.
Ross said the downturn in temperature over the weekend will offer something of a silver
lining, as cooler temperatures are not conducive to mold and mildew.
Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said
that Arkansas growers will also likely see some significant quality discounts, although
growers will probably not lose too many pounds of cotton.
“At least our cotton was early, and we got started picking early — that’s the good
news,” Robertson said. “But we’re to the point in the year where our window of opportunity
to harvest is going to be very narrow. We’re not going to have the luxury of letting
our fields dry out.
“Anything not already harvested is probably going to have big ruts in it by the end
of the year,” he said.
To learn about row crops in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.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) email@example.com