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April 7, 2020
By Ryan McGeeneyU of A System Division of Agriculture
(361 words)(Download this story in MS Word here.)
LITTLE ROCK — While planted acreage for winter wheat in Arkansas rebounded to 160,000
acres in 2020 — up from 2019’s record low of 110,000 acres — the state’s growers were
still met with an unrelenting challenge, as intermittent rainfall throughout the year
Jason Kelley, wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture, said opportunities to plant fall-planted wheat have been
scarce throughout the past several years.
“Wet weather is the number one contributing factor for the low wheat acreage for the
last two years in Arkansas and the mid-south,” Kelley said. “Wet weather during September
and October delays summer crop harvest, and when it is too wet to get crops out, wheat
acreage is going to fall. In some areas of the state, we literally had one to two
days to plant wheat before the next rain.”
Three of Arkansas’ four biggest crops — soybeans, rice and corn — saw increased acreage
in a recent prospective planting report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cotton
acres decreased, from about 620,000 acres in 2019 to about 590,000 planned acres in
2020, a 5 percent drop.
In addition to narrowing the windows in which growers can actually plant the crop,
the wet weather makes management practices such as pest control more difficult.
“Acreage that was planted has endured season-long wet conditions that reduced stands,
prevented timely fertilizer and herbicide applications, and will likely reduce the
overall yield potential,” Kelley said. “Timing of spring nitrogen is critical to maximize
yields. We often have our best wheat crops when we have a dry winter and spring.”
Kelley added that making the best use of fields with adequate drainage was the make-or-break
factor for many growers hoping to maximize wheat yield potential.
One silver lining amongst the rain clouds for growers has been the rise in grain market
prices for wheat, especially compared to other commodities. Growers have recently
seen opportunities to book wheat for harvest at or near $6 per bushel, and cash prices
are currently about $5.75 per bushel, which is the highest it has been in about five
years, with the exception of a brief period in August 2018.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, 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 McGeeneyCommunications ServicesUniversity of Arkansas System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com