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Dec. 14, 2021
By John LovettU of A System Division of Agriculture
Download MS Word version
Related PHOTOS: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQ8Zo5i
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Despite severe flooding in southeast Arkansas this year, the
state’s farmers produced a banner year of corn with a state average of 183 bushels
Prompted by attractive market prices, Arkansas farmers also increased grain sorghum
production and are on course to increase winter wheat acreage. Grain sorghum production
rose to 90,000 acres, which was a marked increase from the 12,000 acres planted in
Although down 1 bushel per acre from 2020, the 183 bushels per acre Arkansas average
in 2021 was higher than this year’s U.S. record high average corn yield of 177 bushels
per acre. The state average record corn yield was 187 bushels per acre in 2014.
Arkansas planted 850,000 acres of corn, a 37 percent increase over 2020 and the second
highest number of acres of corn planted since 1954.
“There are several reasons for the increase in acreage, but a relatively good planting
window in March and April and prospects for a good grain price were the driving factors,”
said Jason Kelley, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture professor
and wheat and feed grains extension agronomist.
Nearly all farms in the southern half of Arkansas were impacted to some degree by
the early June storms and flooding, Kelley said. Flooding, wind damage and nitrogen
loss from saturated soils all contributed to loss in yield.
“If it had not been for the early June storms and flood, the state was on track for
a record yield,” Kelley said. “But 183 bushels per acre is still a great yield. A
good harvest window with no direct hit from tropical storms really helped harvest
progress along without issues.”
The buzzkill in all the success can be spelled with three letters: N-P-K; also known
as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
“Currently, fertilizer prices and input costs have corn and other crop farmers struggling
to pencil out plans for 2022,” Kelley said. “Fertilizer prices now are currently double
or more what they were in 2021.”
Increasing fuel costs, labor shortages and limited availability of other inputs such
as herbicides and fungicides are issues that Arkansas farmers face going into 2022.
A bright spot, for corn growers at least, is that tar spot has not been identified
in Arkansas, Kelley said. The disease caused by the fungus Phyllachora maydis was first detected in northern Indiana and Illinois in 2015, according to the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.
Tar spot can reduce grain yields by 20 to 60 bushels an acre and has been identified
in corn-growing areas of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin, Florida, and southwestern Ontario, Canada, the USDA article noted. Kelley
said tar spot has also been spotted in Georgia, Illinois and Kentucky.
The 650 percent increase in grain sorghum acres were planted primarily in the counties
surrounding Helena and West Memphis, Kelley noted. The grain is primarily used in
animal feed and by a growing number of ethanol plants, but grain sorghum is gaining
popularity in the U.S. because of its gluten-free property and because it is celiac
safe, according to National Sorghum Producers.
China has been the largest buyer of American-produced grain sorghum over the last
few years and have helped provide price support for the crop, Kelley added.
“Summer rains were nearly ideal, and yields were good to excellent for most sorghum
farmers,” Kelley said of the Arkansas grain sorghum crop.
Sugarcane aphid is still a concern for grain sorghum in Arkansas, but Kelley said
producers have learned how to manage the pest through close scouting and planting
sugarcane aphid tolerant hybrids.
With prices near at 10-year high, Arkansas growers likely increased the number of
acres planted, Kelley said. There were about 210,000 acres of winter wheat planted
in the state last year. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
agricultural wheat planting report is expected to be released in January.
“Overall, we have had a good fall for planting wheat and the warm weather in December
has allowed the crop to obtain good growth this fall,” Kelley said.
By early December, wheat was trading at just over $8 a bushel following a steady increase
this fall. The season-average farm price for wheat rose 20 cents per bushel to $6.90
in the fall based on strong prices reported in the Oct. 29 NASS Agricultural Prices
report. The September 2021 all-wheat price was estimated at $7.55, which was up from
$7.13 in August 2021 and about 60 percent above the $4.73 in September 2020, according
to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at @ArkAgResearch.
To learn about Extension Programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit https://uaex.uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.
To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
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 and services 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: John LovettU of A System Division of AgricultureArkansas Agricultural Experiment Station(479) email@example.com