Harvest Season Good for Clay County Producers

Thursday, October 15, 2015
Ben Stirnamen operates a cotton picker on Graves Gin farm land on Highway 139 Monday. (TD photo/Jessica Rainwater)

Beautiful sunny weather and minimal rains are making this year's harvest one of the best.

"The weather has been so good many crops are out and farmers actually have the opportunity to begin now to work their land for next spring," Clay County extension agent Andy Vangilder said.

Cotton is on everybody's mind right now with few farmers picking at this point; for many the bolls are still a little green. However, next week will be a totally different situation, and everyone should be in full swing if the weather allows.

About 23,000 acres of cotton are standing in Clay County, making up the usual 10 percent of Arkansas' 300,000 acres.

"It's hard to predict the yield currently, because so few have picked any cotton," Vangilder said. "However, the plants look good and the producers picking have said they are seeing wonderful results and are very pleased."

The small amount picked has shown yields of 1,000 to 1,250 pounds per acre.

There was more rain in the spring than needed for all crops, which causes yields to diminish somewhat. "We've been lucky the past three years with really high yields, so we are a little spoiled," Vangilder said. "But the yields are good this year, just not as good."

Corn had a slower start this year, but corn harvested an average yield of 175 bushels per acre and is finished. Dryland corn tended to be better than wet.

Rice crops tend to be higher in yield in eastern Clay County than western. "Some fields that usually yield 200 bushels per acre or more only produced 130 to 140 bushels per acre, while on the east side farmers are seeing that 200 plus," Vangilder said.

Rain differentiation and planting times are the reason for the difference between the two sides of the county."There is always a big fluctuation when you see the kind of weather we had all year," Vangilder said.

Soybeans look good across the board, and much better than last year. Weather and high winds cut down several acres last year, but this year the beans are looking good. The fluctuation of yield is from 50 to 70 bushels per acre, which is normal with such a wet season during the most important growth stages.

Grain sorghum, or more commonly known as milo, produced better than predicted with farmers seeing yields of 6,000 to 7,500 pounds per acre. Due to the amount of rain the dryland fields held better yields than the wetlands fields.

This was a big year for milo; about 13,000 acres were planted compared to 1,500 last year. However, the crop was a big crop years ago in this area. The plant was needed this year for two reasons -- one, it's a great rotational crop and reduces nematodes, the other is that it had a better price point at the beginning of planting season which allowed producers to book a good price. "I predict next year we won't see as much sorghum unless the price goes back up," Vangilder said.

Despite the beautiful crops, prices are dismal this year, and farmers are going to come out worse than years past regardless of crops chosen. The price of cotton has come up slightly, but "it's just going to be tight fiscally for everyone this year," Vangilder said.

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