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— The 2009 harvest in Arkansas is nearly complete, with growers gathering in more than half their soybeans and more than three-quarters of their cotton from the fields since the start of November.

“Growers in Prairie County have burnt more diesel fuel the month of November than August through September,” said Brent Griffin, Prairie County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. It’s“truly amazing how fast a crop can be harvested when given a chance.

“Folks here were actually hoping for rain to go deer or duck hunting,” he said.

According to figures from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of Nov. 1:

• Corn was 93 percent harvested, compared with 100 percent for the 5-year average

• Cotton was 19 percent harvested, compared with the 83 percent 5-year average

• Rice was 84 percent harvested, compared with the 99 percent 5-year average

• Soybeans were 43 percent harvested, compared with the 78 percent 5-year average

• Winter wheat 25 percent was planted, compared with the 56 percent 5-year average.

Corn and rice harvests were 100 percent and 99 percent complete by the week ending Nov. 22. For the week ending Nov. 29, cotton and soybeans were 96 percent harvested. Both crops had a 98 percent rate for the 5-year average.

Winter wheat made up ground too. At 91 percent planted winter wheat was nearly at the 94 percent 5-year average pace.

“Producers’ spirits have improved, but there’s still a lot of concern about paying bills,” said Gus Wilson, extension staff chair for the U of A Division of Agriculture in hardhit Chicot County.

Once the crop was out, producers wasted no time preparing fields for the 2010 crop, as well as fixing any damage caused by running harvesting equipment through the muddy fields.

A lot of Jackson County producers “have been able to smooth out some of those ruts and some have been able to get ground ready to stale-seedbed in next spring,” said Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County extension staff chair for the U of A Division of Agriculture.

For some producers, harvest time was more of a salvage operation.

Robert Goodson, Phillips County extension agent for the division, said yields from the county’s nearly 250,000 acres of beans were mixed.

“Early soybeans cut well, some as high as the mid 80s to low 90s” in terms of bushels per acre, he said. “The problem was the crop was in the middle, where there was major damage.”

That damage translated into lower prices at the elevator and lower payments for those with crop insurance.

“The major issue was that crop insurance based its payment on total weight and not damage,” Goodson said. “As you know many producers were taking salvage price for some beans that had more than 60 percent damage.”

Chlapecka saw some of the same in Jackson County.

“We had a significant acreage damaged by flooding and some of those farmers are trying to salvage what they can,” he said. “Some of the flooded crops were totally ruined, while some they have been able to salvage, largely depending on how long they were flooded.

“Quality is obviously affected, but if they can sell those crops and get anything for them, it is better than nothing,” Chlapecka said.

Rain returned to the forecast the final week of November and more was expected the first week of December.

“Due to the late harvest the USDA will extend its national crop progress reporting by an extra week,” said Scott Stiles, instructor of agricultural economics for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “The last report will be Dec. 7. If the weather keeps folks out of the field this week they could extend the reporting until the 14th.”

Economists from the U of A Division of Agriculture expect to issue a final damage estimate report for the 2009 crop in January.

News, Pages 10 on 12/09/2009

Print Headline: 2009 harvest nearly complete

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