March 23, 2023

State of the State 2023: Arkansas agri business coping with drought, illness

Arkansas’ agriculture business encountered turbulence in 2022, and faces a number of uncertainties as 2023 unfolds. Heavy springtime rains slowed planting and enter prices for fertilizer, gasoline, and others skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The rains ultimately subsided in late spring, however a brand new drawback emerged – drought. From the primary of June by the tip of July nearly no rain fell, making it one of many worst droughts in state historical past. Row crop farmers needed to begin irrigating fields earlier within the season and it additional ate into revenue margins whilst commodity costs grew.

Livestock farmers could have fared worst. Hay fields shriveled within the scorching warmth, and the fee to feed cattle herds made it untenable for a lot of farmers. Cattle farmers across the state needed to cull herds and a few went out of enterprise.

Poultry farmers did higher than anticipated for many of 2022, however illness threatened on the finish of the 12 months and will carry over into 2023. Avian influenza, or HPAI, ravaged many elements of the nation and Canada in the course of the 12 months however spared Arkansas. That modified in October when at the very least three flocks within the state contracted HPAI.

Planted rice acreage this rising season topped 1.11 million acres, in accordance with the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Nationwide Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS). All rice manufacturing for the state is forecast at 81.2 million hundredweight, down 5% from the August forecast and down 11% from final 12 months’s manufacturing of 91.1 million hundredweight, NASS reported. The all-rice yield for 2022 is forecast at 7,500 kilos per acre, down 50 kilos from August and down 130 kilos from final 12 months.

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Arkansas farmers harvested 690,000 of the 710,000 acres of corn planted in 2022, in accordance with NASS estimates. The variety of acres planted was down 16.5% from final 12 months. The state common yield was 176 bushels per acre, down 4.3% from the prior 12 months’s 183 bushels per acre.

Winter wheat was up by 4.3%, planting 220,000 acres final fall. The state attained a mean yield of 53 bushels per acre from an estimated 150,000 acres harvested, up 5,000 acres from the 2021 harvest, NASS reported.

Farmers harvested 3.15 million acres, up practically 140,000 acres from 2021. Yield from these acres is projected to prime 53 bushels per acre, a state file.  In 2021, the state’s soybean crop was valued at greater than $1.94 billion, in accordance with the 2022 Arkansas Agriculture Profile, and final 12 months’s crop may method $2 billion in worth.

However there are points that ought to be regarding to farmers, mentioned Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the College of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Potassium deficiency in Arkansas’ most respected row crop is turning into extra prevalent within the state.  The deficiency is hardly noticeable from visible inspection. An correct prognosis requires tissue samples to be analyzed.

“We’re going to be encouraging soybean farmers extra subsequent 12 months to ship in tissue samples to check potassium ranges in soybean crops and reap the benefits of the free instruments accessible by the Division of Agriculture for potassium suggestions,” Ross mentioned.

Drought all through Texas and the Southwest pushed cotton costs greater in 2022. The web end in Arkansas was a surge in cotton planting. Costs are projected to say no in 2023 because the economic system slows and is projected to scale back acres within the state. It’s estimated that state cotton farmers harvested 630,000 acres in 2022, a virtually 30% improve from the earlier 12 months.

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Arkansas is projected to have a mean yield of 1,166 kilos per acre, down 82 kilos or 6.6% from final 12 months’s file of 1,248 kilos. The drought-like circumstances could contribute to decrease yields, mentioned Scott Stiles, extension economist for the College of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Arkansas farmers grew about 2,000 fewer acres of peanuts in 2022 in comparison with 2021. NASS estimated about 32,000 acres have been grown within the state. Yield remained within the 5,000 pound per acre vary. Dry circumstances in the course of the harvest meant that 90% of the peanut crop was harvest by Oct. 31. This might result in expanded yield estimates later in 2023.

Enter price hikes and drought compelled many cattle farmers to cull herds or go away the enterprise altogether, mentioned James Mitchell, assistant professor and extension agricultural economist for the College of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Nationwide, a 4% discount in herds is projected.

“Producers didn’t have the grass, and it wasn’t a very good 12 months for hay,” Mitchell mentioned. “They needed to cull numerous cows.”

Mitchell mentioned the U.S. beef business, together with Arkansas producers, are in a liquidation cycle the place beef operations scale back herd sizes. The cattle cycle swings between herd growth when costs are excessive and herd discount when costs are low. Smaller herds imply decrease availability of beef, which drives costs up and the cycle swings again to growth.  The cattle cycle can sometimes take eight to 14 years, Mitchell mentioned.

“It’s an extended interval due to how lengthy it takes from the time a calf hits the bottom till it goes to market to develop into beef.”

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The present liquidation cycle began round 2019 when costs started to say no, Mitchell mentioned. After which the drought hit cattle nation exhausting. That started to drive costs up once more, however herds are nonetheless being decreased as a result of the prolonged drought is decreasing availability of excellent pastures and hay.

Costs within the sector have been good in 2022, however partly resulting from illness decreasing flocks. Fowl flu has been present in industrial and yard flocks in 46 states and in wild birds in 47 states, in accordance with the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Well being Inspection Service.

As of Dec. 7, 52.87 million birds have been affected, making this essentially the most important outbreak in U.S. historical past by way of variety of birds affected. In October, state officers confirmed HPAI in a flock in Madison County. As of December, three flocks within the state have examined optimistic for the illness.

Editor’s observe: The State of the State sequence supplies stories twice a 12 months on Arkansas’ key financial sectors. The sequence publishes tales to start a 12 months and tales in July/August to supply a broad mid-year replace on the state’s economic system. Hyperlink right here for the State of the State web page and former tales.