Soybean acreage is expected to decrease this year in Arkansas but only slightly, says Dr. Jeremy Ross, a soybeans agronomist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
“I’m expecting acreage to decline some, but not significantly compared to the past few years,” Ross says and explains he is predicting 3.1 million acres in 2019.
Historically, that’s down, but not by much.
“For the last four years, the acreage has been 3.28 million acres (2018), 3.53 million acres (2017), 3.13 million acres (2016), and 3.2 million acres (2015),” Ross says.
Ross isn’t ready to speculate on what kinds of crops soybean farmers would see.
“It’s too early to predict,” he says. “With the weather pattern we have been in all winter, I’m expecting later plantings for 2019. We have data which shows as planting is delayed, yield is reduced. Especially, once planting is delayed into late-May.”
Regardless of the acreage from year-to-year, soybeans are an essential, important crop for the state’s economy.
“The pure value of the state’s soybean crop in 2017 was $1.74 billion,” says Scott Stiles, an economics instructor in the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas. “It’s estimated that soybeans have a value added impact of roughly $817 million for the state in terms of additional jobs an economic activity. Figures for 2018 are still being calculated and are not final at this time.”
Nationally, Arkansas ranks 10th in the country in terms of soybean production, in figures from Arkansas Farm Bureau and at 3.1 million acres, that’s more than rice, corn, sorghum and wheat combined in the state.
Of course, since farmers tend to grow more than one crop, a “decrease in soybean acreage will be replaced with either cotton or rice,” Ross says, so it isn’t that those estimated 3,500 soybean farmers are missing out.
Ross also notes that dicamba usage would have some impact on soybean farmers.
“The percentage of the acreage planted to the dicamba technology will be greater in 2019 than it was in 2018,” he says. “However, just in the last few months, two other herbicides have been approved for export. These two herbicide technologies are Enlist (2,4-D/Glyphosate/Glufosinate tolerant) and LibertyLink GT27 (HPPD/Glyphosate/Glufosinate tolerant). These two technologies will have limited acreage due to variety selection, but they will gain increased acreage in the future.”
The acreage and the farmers will be ready.