Arkansas’ wheat planting is expected to begin in earnest the week of October 22.

“We’ve had some rains lately and haven’t gotten going with wheat planting really well yet,” says Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension wheat specialist. “Some of the late soybeans are hanging on and some rice went down so those harvests have gone long.”

The wheat price is good, says Kelley. “Around $8, or better, can be booked for the next harvest. Even though that’s down a little it’s still an attractive price.”

Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension wheat specialist, expects the state will expand wheat acreage. “Last year, we had a bit over 400,000 acres. We could have a crop of about 500,000 acres in 2013. That’s a sizable chunk of land and big commitment from our growers.

“We typically range from 100,000 acres of wheat up to 500,000. So, we’re at the upper end of the scale.”

Kelley expects “there will be quite a bit of dryland wheat. Where the land is fully irrigated, growers are going to be looking at soybeans and corn. The wheat price hasn’t really picked up as many acres as what I thought it might.”

Compared to 2011, “we may see wheat acres up 10 to 20 percent. That may change but, right now, we’re looking at just a modest increase.

“Anyone looking to plant wheat should know there are still a lot of good seed varieties available.”

Seed salesman Scooter Hodges at Stratton Seed in Stuttgart, Ark., says “withprices like they are more farmers are thinking about wheat.”

Among the varieties Hodges says are still available: AGS 2031, AGS 2052, AGS 2056, Arcadia, Beretta, Coker 1104, Coker 9553, Coker 9804, Jackpot-Hard Wheat, Magnolia, and Oakes.