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Jan. 17, 2023
By Ryan McGeeneyU of A System Division of Agriculture
(1,152 words)(Newsrooms: With graphic available at https://flic.kr/p/2oc3Y7v)
LITTLE ROCK — Despite a second consecutive year with more than 40 percent of the contiguous
United States toiling under drought conditions, Arkansas soybean and cotton growers
managed to tie or improve their lot in 2022.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Production 2022 Survey, published
Jan. 12, U.S. growers planted about 312 million acres of crops, a 1.6 percent decrease
from the previous season. They harvested approximately 286 million acres, a drop of
4.2 percent from 2021 year-end numbers. Arkansas production dropped slightly in 2022,
with overall planted acres falling just 28,000 to about 6.99 million acres, and harvested
acres falling by 27,000 to about 6.8 million acres.
The USDA surveyed more than 72,000 farming operations in December 2022, including
more than 1,800 operations in Arkansas alone.
While overall soybean production across the country fell nearly 5 percent, USDA reported
both Arkansas and Mississippi enjoying record-tying and record-setting average yields,
Arkansas planted soybean acreage rose more than 4 percent in 2022, to nearly 3.2 million
acres, with about 3.15 million of those acres being harvested. The state average yield
remained the same year over year at 52 bushels per acre for an overall production
increase of 7.8 million bushels in 2022. Nationally, soybean production fell from
4.47 billion bushels to 4.28 billion bushels.
Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture, said the final numbers were a pleasant surprise after a challenging
“Our average yield was reduced by 1 bushel per acre from the earlier estimates,” Ross
said. “I was expecting the state average yield to be reduced from the 53 bushels-per-acre
fall estimate, but I thought it would be lower than 52. From conservations I had with
many soybean growers, they all said their farm soybean averages were average at best.
“I was expecting yields to be much lower due to the drought and high temperatures
we had during June and July. 2021 had a much better environment for high soybean yields
than we saw in 2022. Looking at yields from other states, all surrounding states,
other than Mississippi, had lower average soybean yields in 2022 than was reported
Planted cotton acreage in Arkansas increased substantially in 2022, jumping by more
than a third, from 480,000 acres in 2021 to 640,000 acres in 2022. Harvested acres
increased substantially as well, from 475,000 acres to 630,000 acres. Average yield
fell slightly, however, from the state record of 1,248 lbs. per acre in 2021 to 1,196
lbs. in 2022 — the second-best yield on record — resulting in an overall production
increase of just over 27 percent at 1.57 million bales.
Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said
the state’s current five-year average for cotton yield is 1,188 pounds of lint per
“Good cotton usually picks very good, especially when little rainfall occurs after
boll opening,” Robertson said. “We saw few weather-related losses across most of the
state, giving us the opportunity to get almost everything the plant produced in the
“Our yield-per-acre values were expected to be higher than estimated during the fall,”
he said. “This is good news, especially in our current economic situation.”
Robertson said that the most challenging issue for many Arkansas growers in 2022 was
the increased percentage of the state’s crop receiving discounts for high micronaire
— an indication of cotton’s fiber fineness and maturity.
“The wonderful weather we had basically the whole month of September matured our top
crop more so than we may have ever experienced in Arkansas,” he said. “Between the
more mature bolls and delays in initiation of our harvest aid programs, some varieties
were falling in the discount range for ‘high mic’ more than others.”
Arkansas winter wheat acres, planted in the fall of 2022, fell about 14 percent from
the previous year to 190,000 acres. Average yield, harvested earlier in the year,
fell from 58 bushels per acre in 2021 to 53 bushels in 2022. Jason Kelley, extension
wheat and feed grains agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said the crop was
likely impacted by rainfall in April 2022.
“The decrease in acres was a little surprising given the dry fall that gave wheat
farmers the opportunity to plant,” Kelley said, noting that wet weather often limits
opportunities to plant wheat. High market prices would have also incentivized higher
acreage, he said, although high fertilizer prices provided an economic disincentive.
After a substantial jump in planted corn acreage in 2021, vaulting from 2020’s 620,000
acres to 850,000 acres in 2021, Arkansas growers relinquished some of that ground
in 2022, with corn acreage falling to 710,000 acres, according to the USDA report.
Growers managed to harvest 695,000 of those acres, with a lower yield than the previous
year, falling from 184 bushels per acre to 173 bushels.
The result was “not surprising, given the heat and dry weather that occurred during
the critical pollination and grain fill times,” Kelley said. “Even with approximately
95 percent of our corn acres being irrigated, heat and lack of rain are still hard
Arkansas planted peanut acreage fell about 8 percent in 2022, from about 36,000 acres
to about 33,000. This was the second straight year of declining acreage for the crop
in Arkansas, which reached 39,000 planted acres in 2021.
Harvested peanut acreage fell as well in 2022, from 35,000 acres to 32,000. Average
yield increased, however, from about 5,000 pounds per acre to about 5,200.
As extension rice agronomist Jarrod Hardke put it, the 2023 rice-growing season was
“erratic and difficult.” A wet spring — the fourth or fifth in a row for many of the
state’s growers — followed by a hot, dry summer challenged growers on several fronts,
from irrigation to nutrient inputs.
Arkansas’ planted rice acreage fell by more than 9 percent in 2022 to about 1.1 million
acres. Harvested acres fell as well, from nearly 1.2 million acres to about 1.08 million.
Average yield across all rice varieties fell as well in Arkansas, from about 7,630
pounds per acre to about 7,410 pounds, a decrease of about 3 percent.
“The acreage decrease was expected given the major increase in input costs, particularly
fertilizer and fuel,” Hardke said. “However, it is the first time Arkansas has had
two consecutive years of rice acreage decline since 2006-2007. It is also the first
time the state has had two years with harvested acreage below 1.2 million acres since
“The drought and summer heat made every task more difficult during the season, which
can have an impact on yields while the heat itself can do damage,” he said. “A significant
drop in yield from last season’s record was again anticipated, but in a stroke of
luck, most of the rice missed the worst heat at what could have been the worst timing.
That is to say, it wasn’t great — but it could’ve been worse.”
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division
of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu/. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. 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: Ryan McGeeney firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_McG44 501-671-2120