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Arkansas farmers seeing record yields.

JONESBORO--A number of Arkansas' yield records are likely to fall, according to projections for the just-concluded growing year.

The National Agriculture Statistics Service expects record yields for corn, cotton, rice and soybeans.

Soybeans cover more land than any other Arkansas crop, and this year, growers harvested 3.2 million acres, averaging yield of 45 bushels per acre. That tops last year's harvest of 43 bushels per acre. Some soybean growers harvested more than 100 bushels per acre on small plots, the first time Arkansas farmers have broken the 100-bushels-per-acre threshold.

In keeping with the nation's trend, corn also topped the charts at 182 bushels per acre, surpassing 2012's record 178 bushels per acre.

Arkansas farmers harvested 855,000 acres of corn this year despite a wet spring that delayed planting. But its corn acreage grew at the expense of cotton, which was down to 300,000 acres harvested. Regardless, cotton growers also are expected to set a record with 1,120 pounds per acre, up from the 2004 record of 1,112 pounds per acre.

Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the record yield projections were welcome news, but added, "That's where the good news stops."

Commodity prices for 2014 are lower than growers need them to be. "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," Stiles said. "Oddly enough, [the] market reaction was positive for corn and soybeans because the USDA didn't hand us the most bearish scenario that traders and analysts feared."

Other Arkansas crops are seeing high yields too. Rice is projected to come in at 168 bushels per acre, topping last year's record of 166. Sorghum growers also had a healthy crop for 2013, if not a record-setter. The grain yielded 88 bushels per acre, which is up four bushels from 2012. Also, NASS, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, projects Arkansas' winter wheat to have a record of 62 bushels per acre, up from the 2006 record of 61 bushels.

Jason Kelley, wheat and teed grains agronomist for the UA's Division of Agriculture, said that after the deluges of spring, the corn crop got the weather it needed for a successful year.

--The Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Agriculture
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Nov 18, 2013
Words:398
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