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Rain Has Arkansas Soybean Farmers Behind Schedule In Havesting

Stock photo of soybeans
Stock photo of soybeans

Repeated rainfall has Arkansas soybean growers behind schedule in harvesting their crop. Farmers are behind the past five year average of having 60 percent of their crop gathered by this time of year. Currently the soybean harvest is at 44 percent among Arkansas growers according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Jeremy Ross, a soybean expert with the university, says farmers are roughly 26 percent behind this year compared to the previous year.

"Last year I think we were around 70 percent harvested. So with the weather conditions we've had the last several weeks, have really gotten us behind on soybean progress," says Ross. "Along with that the soybean quality has been pretty poor and I think it's several factors, but the main factor is the weather conditions we've had for the last month."

Ross says growers have had quality issues on and off over the past five years, but nothing to this extent. He says the reason is because temperatures were higher than normal in September and added that rainfall prevented farmers from harvesting their crop.

"The fields were wet, they just couldn't go across those fields," he explained. "The longer those soybeans sat out there under those hot humid conditions the more fungus and molds and mildews developed and those beans just started to deteriorate."

In addition to delayed harvests and loss of quality, Arkansas soybean growers are also experiencing a severe price cut this season, which Ross says is a lot more than he's ever heard before.

"Some of them have been ranging in just a few cents per bushel on some of the better quality beans, all the way up to a $1.25 to $1.50 discount per bushel," he says. "Prices are reduced already because of trade tariffs and depressed commodity prices, so this was just another thing farmers really didn’t need.” 

Ross says some farmers are in the $6 dollar range with their soybeans which makes it difficult for them to turn a profit especially with the cost of production.

Unusually wet and hot weather has been an issue for Arkansas crops since late summer. Back in August Jarrod Hardke, a rice expert with the University of Arkansas, told KUAR News, "when you get some pretty heavy rainfall that's unexpected, usually rice handles it the best. If you get a lot of flooding on the bottom end of soybean and corn fields, you can cause crop injury. They like water, but they definitely don't like to have too much, and a little goes a long way with those crops, so those are the ones to be more concerned about."

According to a news release from the university, it's not just Arkansas who is having this problem. Researchers and growers across states like Louisiana and Mississippi have reported even worse condistions for their soybean crop. Elsewhere growers in Kentucky, Tennesee, southern Ohio, and Iowa like Arkansas are experiencing delays in harvesting and reducded quality in their crop due to weather.

Meanwhile cotton, which had a strong start this season, is above its five year harvesting average of 42 percent sitting at 67 percent harvested according to the news release, but like soybeans quality is also suffering. 

Ross says soybean quality is starting to go back up but doubts there will be much harvesting this week because of the rain.

KUAR is a content partner of KASU based in Little Rock.  Read more news from central Arkansas here.

Colton Faull is a news intern at KUAR.