- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Late winter and early spring rains across Arkansas have put a damper on the 2015 wheat harvest in the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that total production was just more than 19 million bushels, down from almost 25 million bushels in 2014. The yield averaged out at 56 bushels per acre, seven bushels per acre less than the 63 bushels per acre harvested last year.

“It’s not a surprise. The yields were estimated to be down with the wet spring we’ve endured,” said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and small grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “I expect that 56 bushels per acre is pretty close to where we would be this year. The yield potential has been reduced because of too much water.”

Kelley said that when farmers were trying to fertilize the crop in February and March, the rain delayed their application of nitrogen, resulting in reduced yields in some fields. Poor drainage in some areas also hurt the yield.

The statistics service said a total of 340,000 acres were harvested, down from last year’s harvest of 395,000 acres,

Kelley said he believes wheat will remain a viable crop, as long as the weather cooperates.

“On average, we are increasing our overall state average yield by three-quarters of a bushel a year. The trend is upward. It wouldn’t be unheard of to get higher than 63 bushels if we get the right weather.”

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