Some Arkansas producers will be ready to harvest in two to three weeks — and early delivery may provide them a windfall at the terminal, according to University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture personnel.

Growers in Chicot County began harvesting soybeans and corn the week of July 19 and agents in Jackson, Desha, Phillips and other counties said they were expecting some growers to be able to harvest rice, corn and soybeans by the third week of August.

“The early harvest will benefit the grower,” said Scott Stiles, Extension economist-risk management. “The supply situation in soybeans is tight enough that Mississippi River elevators are offering a basis above Chicago Board of Trade prices.”

For example, on July 28, some terminals at Memphis, Tenn., or Helena, Ark., were offering a basis of 15 cents above August soybean futures, if growers can deliver by Aug. 10, Stiles said. Fifteen cents over the current August futures price is $10.25 a bushel.

Helping soybean prices is China’s large appetite for soy.

“I suspect exporters love having our early crop to fill in the gap before the Midwest harvest starts,” Stiles said. “A consistent order from China for soybeans is one of the reasons why the basis is positive.”

If China follows through with its intention to purchase at least a million metric tons of soybeans a week in the 2010 marketing year, “likely between 40 percent and 50 percent of that will come from the United States.”

The same terminals are offering a basis of 12 cents below September corn futures for delivery by Aug. 10. At $3.64 a bushel, “that’s a little better than the 20 cents-under price being offered for delivery after Sept. 1. While it doesn’t sound like a big deal, given the high corn yields … it’s more than $16 per acre on a 185 bushel per acre yield.”

In Jackson County, some growers are getting ready to turn off the wells, said Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County Extension staff chair.

“Rice and corn farmers are getting irrigation termination on their minds,” said Chlapecka. “Some corn farmers have irrigated for the last time and some of the earliest rice will be drained later this week in preparation for harvest.

“This is the earliest overall rice crop I can ever remember and a lot will be harvested by the end of August,” he said.

In the southeastern corner of Arkansas, Desha County Extension staff chair Wes Kirkpatrick said his growers were getting their combines ready.

“We have a few acres of soybeans that are getting ready for harvest in two to three weeks,” said Kirkpatrick. “We’re looking good for the most part and we have a lot of crops that are a week and two weeks ahead of schedule.

“This crop has been on the fast track from Day One. The good, warm weather early on and the hot June” allowed the crop to progress faster than normal.

Kirkpatrick said it’s essential that growers see good yields this year. With dry weather and increasing diesel prices, “that adds up and cuts into any profit in a hurry.”

The forecast is dry, with highs near 100 and lows in the upper 70s through August 4.

Rain over the last few weeks made for some headaches in Jackson County.

“We are still trying to recover from the heavy rains of two weeks ago which damaged or killed a significant amount of soybeans,” Chlapecka said. “A lot of soybeans were either planted or replanted last week, which is obviously a lot later than we would like to be planting soybeans. ”Others decided that it was too late and will leave empty fields or parts of fields.”

Other counties reported up to 2 inches of rain on July 26 and 27, a welcome sight for most farmers in dry southeastern Arkansas.