LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas wheat production is experiencing a slight uptick from its long-term low, according to a July 12 crop production report from the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).


The forecast for the state’s 2017 winter wheat production jumped to 7.17 million bushels — 18 percent higher than the June forecast and 15 percent above last year’s actual production. The report also forecast a yield of 55 bushels per acre, with about 130,000 acres for harvest.


The state’s wheat surge comes as forecast production for the United States dropped by about 23 percent from 2016, according to both the NASS report and the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.


U.S. wheat production projection


The report projected U.S. wheat production at 1.76 billion bushels for the 2017-2018 production cycle, a decrease of about 550 million bushels from the previous year. The report also lowered exports by 25 million bushels to 975 million, and feed and residual usage was reduced by 20 million to 150 million bushels for residual usage, based on a lower production outlook for durum and other spring wheat.


Globally, wheat supplies were largely unchanged, as lower production in the United States, Australia, China and the European Union were offset by increased production in Turkey and China, the latter having experienced record production during the 2016-2017 production cycle, according to the report.


Scott Stiles, economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that grain traders would likely view the WASDE report with some skepticism, because it may not reflect what was “being reported on the ground.”


Corn and soybeans


“U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings are on the decline,” Stiles said. “(Wednesday’s) report held the U.S corn and soybean yields steady month-to-month at 170.7 and 48 bushels per acre respectively. Those are trend yields that USDA has been using since May, in its first release of the 2017/18 supply/demand tables.


“Given the deteriorating crop conditions in the northern Plains area of the United States — primarily the Dakotas and parts of Nebraska — most would agree today that yields this year will come in below trend, particularly for corn. Soybeans have more time, but this is a critical yield-determining month for corn,” he said.


Stiles said that the next WASDE report, scheduled for publication Aug. 10, will incorporate survey-based production forecasts from NASS, which he expects to provide a more accurate picture of crop yields.


The WASDE report also provided global perspective on two other commodities important to Arkansas — rice and cotton.


Estimation of U.S. Rice


The USDA lowered its estimation of U.S. rice supplies by about 9.5 million hundredweight to approximately 261.6 million hundredweight, or about 13 million tons. Production also decreased, in both long-grain and medium-grain rice, and the report largely attributes the decrease to the spring flooding in Northeast Arkansas and the bootheel area of Missouri, which reduced total rice acreage by about 123,000 acres.


“Lower rice production was expected in Wednesday’s report,” Stiles said. “This was based on the fact that the USDA would be adopting the June 30 acreage data. On the surface, a lower production estimate should be supportive to prices. However, rice futures have lost about 17 cents per bushel in the wake of the report.”


The report estimated that global rice supplies increased by about 1.9 million tons overall, balancing the reduced production in the United States with increases in India and Thailand.


Cotton production


Across the United States, projected cotton production dropped by 200,000 bales over the last month to approximately 19 million, according to the report. Globally, estimated cotton production increased by about 636,000 bales to more than 115.3 million bales, mainly due to increased production in India. Global consumption of cotton is forecast to increase by 500,000 bales to more than 117 million bales during the 2017-2018 cycle.


In a June 30 report, NASS projected Arkansas cotton acreage to have increased from 380,000 acres in 2016 to 440,000 acres in 2017.


To learn about Arkansas row crop production, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.


— Ryan McGeeney is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.