NASS: Ark records broken for corn, cotton, soybeans, rice

Nov. 8, 2013
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Mary Hightower, Cooperative Extension Service Communications
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Fast facts:
• Ark farmer set yield records of rice, corn, cotton, soy
• Crops finish strongly despite wet, slow start

(910 words)

(With file harvest photos at:

JONESBORO, Ark. – Despite a soaking start to the 2013 growing season, Arkansas farmers will likely end 2013 with yield records in corn, cotton, soybeans and rice, according to projections released Friday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The NASS “Crop Production” report said:
• Corn yielded 182 bushels per acre. Previous record, 178 bushels per acre, was set in 2012. Arkansas farmers harvested 855,000 acres of corn. (See “Ark corn, sorghum finishing strong despite terrible start”:
• Cotton yielded 1,120 pounds per acre from 300,000 harvested acres. It beats the record of 1,112 pounds per acre set in 2004.
• Rice yielded 7,550 pounds, or 168 bushels per acre. Arkansas farmers harvested 1.07 million acres.
• Soybean state average yield was 45 bushels per acre from 3.2 million harvested acres. This beat the 43-bushel-per-acre record set last year.

Sorghum didn’t set a record, but came in at 88 bushels per acre, up four bushels from last year. Last month, NASS projected a record winter wheat yield of 62 bushels per acre, up from the old state record of 61 bushels set in 2006. (See:

Market reaction
“The best part of today’s ‘Crop Production’ report was the yields, as four Arkansas crop yield records fell today,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, adding “that’s where the good news stops.

“As we start making plans for next year, we’re looking at mostly bearish supply/demand numbers for all of the major crops. This is something you’d expect on the tail of high yields and production,” he said. “Oddly enough today’s market reaction was positive for corn and soybeans because the USDA didn’t hand us the most bearish scenario that traders and analysts feared.”

Ending stocks higher

2013 U.S. corn ending stocks will be roughly 1 billion bushels higher than last year, Stiles said. “This will keep prices weak in the upcoming months and work against planted acres in 2014.”

Soybean stocks are expected to be up almost 30 million bushels above the 2012 ending stocks number of 141 million bushels. “The bigger concern in the soybean market is the growing size of world ending stocks and the prospects of another year of record South American soybean production,” he said. “How their crop develops will be a key issue to follow from now until March. World wheat, rice, and certainly cotton inventories are all forecast to increase over the previous year levels too.”

“Today, I would say that soybean acreage, and possibly rice, will increase next year,” Stiles said. “Cotton prices and acreage will be driven less by U.S. inventories and more by China’s decisions on dealing with massive reserve stocks of cotton. How much they import will be a key number to watch as well.”

“As bad as the corn planting season seemed with all of the cold, wet weather in March and April and delayed planting, May, June, and July were that much better,” said Jason Kelley, wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture “ Cool night temperatures and moderate day temperatures along with good management made for record breaking yields.”

Blake McClelland, extension cotton verification coordinator for the Division of Agriculture said the NASS “number surprised me because of the late planting we had this year, but on the flip side, we had some really good weather through the summer.”

McClelland said nighttime temperatures were almost ideal and then a spurt of hot days in late August and during September helped finish out the crop.

Another factor that helped yields was that “South Arkansas didn’t have any hurricanes,” he said. “That’s been a real bad omen for them the last several years. They’d get ready to pick and have the remnants of hurricanes go through.”

This year, “They had some really spectacular yields down here,” McClelland said.

The report puts a happy ending on a rice season that didn’t start so well.

“New projected record state average rice yield for Arkansas beat the previous record of 166 bushels per acre set in 2012,” said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Despite cold, wet weather early that delayed planting and heavy rains during midseason, mild daytime and nighttime temperatures likely reduced stress on the rice crop and increased grain fill.

“In addition, mild fall weather contributed to a very successful harvest and limited amounts of grain lost due to lodging and shattering,” he said.

The 2013 season was one of exclamation points for the state’s soybean growers.

“This record yield is somewhat a surprise due to how late the soybean crop was planted in 2013, and the opposite in weather conditions compared to 2012,” said Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the U of A System Division of Agriculture. “The main reason for the excellent soybean crop was the cooler and wetter weather pattern we had during late June and early July.”

It was also a year where soybean growers were certified with better than 100 bushels per acre, breaking a long-resistant barrier.

“The southern part of Arkansas had tremendous soybean yields, with many soybean growers having field averages from the mid-60 to mid-70 bushels per acre,” he said.

In early November, growers were ready to finish out the season. “Harvest has been slow due to frequent rainfalls, but we are in line with the five-year average at this point,” Ross said.

For more information on crop production, visit, or contact your county extension office.

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