LITTLE ROCK — Despite a wet spring, Arkansas’ estimated 2013 winter wheat yield is 59 bushels per acre, the second highest on record, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The record for wheat in Arkansas is 61 bushels per acre, set in 2006. For that year’s harvest, growers planted 365,000 acres. Arkansas growers planted 710,000 acres for harvest in 2013.
“Yields were surprisingly higher than anticipated, considering the wet spring that much of the state faced,” said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Wheat yields are typically lower in a wet spring than a dry spring, so having the second-highest state average yield is a remarkable feat.”
The cooler, wetter spring put the brakes on both crop development and the ability for farmers to get in the field to harvest.
“In 2012 we harvested the bulk of the crop between May 20 and June 3,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “By June 10 last year, harvest was 99 percent complete. This year on June 10, harvest was 2 percent complete.”
Wheat prices are comparable to last year. During the bulk of the 2012 harvest, grower prices at river terminals averaged near $6.60. Arkansas producer prices averaged $6.95 for the 2012 marketing year.
“We did see a sharp $2 rally in wheat prices following harvest last year that improved average prices somewhat,” Stiles said. “For this year’s crop, cash wheat prices averaged about $7 during the most active weeks of harvest — from June 9 to June 23.”
Does that mean there’s another post-harvest rally in the works for 2013?
“There are some price supportive factors in the market today, however, U.S. prices have to remain at a level that’s competitive in the world market,” he said.
The USDA July Supply/Demand numbers were positive for wheat.
The USDA made significant cuts to both the U.S. and World wheat ending stocks. The decline in U.S. wheat stocks was tied to higher export demand, which the USDA increased from 975 million bushels last month to 1.075 billion. The Chinese wheat import estimate for 2013-14 was increased from 3.5 million tons in June to 8.5 million tons.
“This would be the largest wheat import forecast for China since the mid-1990s,” Stiles said.
“World wheat stocks are now projected at a five-year low by USDA for the 2013-14 marketing year.”