UACES Facebook Arkansas hits new annual yield records in rice, cotton; winter wheat acres expected to decline
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Arkansas hits new annual yield records in rice, cotton; winter wheat acres expected to decline

USDA 2021 crop production report has two records and one asterisk.

Jan. 12, 2022 

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • Final cotton figures due in May
  • Higher fertilizer costs may have reduced wheat acres

(520 words)

(Newsrooms: this story may be updated; file art may be found here:;

ADDS new 13th graf with comment from Jason Kelley, new 19th graf with information about rice in U.S. production context; new 26th graf with comment from Kelley on wheat decisions; SUBS 17th graf to CORRECT 'of to 'from' )

JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas’ rice and cotton crops both hit record yields in 2021 as expected, while yields for corn and soybeans were roughly the same as the previous year, according to Wednesday’s report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that summarizes 2021 crop production.

However, for cotton, there is one caveat. Wednesday’s figure isn’t final.

Cotton module behind a harvester

RECORD* -- USDA reported Arkansas cotton having a record state average yield in 2021, but the final numbers won't be in until May. (Division of Agriculture file image)

For cotton, “USDA reduced the average yield 24 pounds to 1,263 pounds of lint per acre, which is still a record,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “However, this is not the final yield estimate. For cotton, that will be released in May.”

Why May? “Ginning is still ongoing in Texas and the High Plains,” he said. The figures will be released alongside the National Agricultural Statistics Service final Cotton Ginnings Annual Summary.

Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist, said the report “bumped planted and harvested acres by 5,000 from the December report. This resulted in the December yield estimate of 1,287 pounds of lint per acre to drop to 1,263.”

Arkansas ranked fourth in planted cotton acres and fourth in upland cotton yield per acre and was third in production. Harvested acres moved to 475,000, compared to 520,000 last year.

Average price outlook remained steady month-to-month at 90 cents per pound.

“Compared to last year we were down 9 percent in acres but was down only 2 percent in production,” Robertson said.

See the year in Arkansas cotton production.

In other crops:

CORN — Stiles said USDA added a bushel back to the average yield taking it up to 184  — same as last year. Harvested acres stood at 830,000 — up from 605,000 in 2020.

“The average price outlook for the 2021 crop remained steady month-to-month at $5.45 versus $4.53 for the 2020 crop,” he said.

Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said Arkansas corn acres were the second-highest since about 1954, thanks to a "combination of better grain price prospects than in previous years, but also a much better planting window that allowed corn to be planted timely also a factor."

See the year in corn and other feed grain production.

PEANUTS — Peanut acreage declined 3,000 acres from 2020 to 35,000. The 2021 state average yield was up 200 pounds to 5,000 pounds per acre.

See the year in Arkansas peanuts.

RICE — USDA added 30 pounds to the average yield for Arkansas, taking it up to 7,630 hundredweight per acre, a record. That’s an increase from 7,500 hundredweight in 2020. 

“Harvested acres were reduced by 4,000 to 1.194 million, which was down 247,000 last year's 1.441 million,” Stiles said.  The average price outlook for long-grain increased 10 cents per hundredweight and month-to-month to $13.20 per hundredweight or $5.94 per bushel, up from $12.60 or $5.67 per bushel for the 2020 crop.

Arkansas again accounted for 47.5 percent of U.S. rice production.

See the year in Arkansas rice.

SOYBEANS — As it did with corn, USDA added a bushel back to the average yield taking it up to 51 — half a bushel less than last year. Harvested acres stood at 3.01 million, which was up from 2.8 million acres the previous year.

“The average price outlook increased 50 cents month-to-month to $12.60, which compared to $10.80 per bushel from the previous year,” Stiles said.

See the year in Arkansas soybeans.

WHEAT — “Surprisingly, wheat acres for Arkansas are expected to be down from the previous year,” Stiles said. “USDA put us at 170,000, which is down 19 percent from the year before. 

“Wheat prices were attractive, but fertilizer prices were headed straight up last fall,” he said. “Input costs may have played a role in lower acres.”

Kelley said it was no surprise that wheat acres didn't increase, "even though grain prices were higher last fall than in several years. An uptick in fertilizer prices were a big concern as decisions on wheat planting were made."

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

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: Mary Hightower