Arkansas’ forecasted 2011 winter wheat yield of 61 bushels per acre could tie the record 2006 crop. This is a surprisingly strong outcome considering a growing season plagued by floods, drought, high winds and hail, said Jason Kelley, Extension wheat agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

The yield estimate is from Tuesday’s Arkansas Crop Production report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 61 bushel-per-acre yield forecast is seven bushels per acre more than last year. The national average yield was expected to be 46.2 bushels per acre. Of the surrounding states, only Mississippi was higher, at 64 bushels per acre.

“Overall, it was an excellent year for wheat,” Kelley said. “The dry fall, winter and early spring got us on track for good yields. It was anticipated that the flooding rains in April would really impact yields, but the yields were still very good in most areas and the forecast ended up tied for the highest state average yield ever.

“Without the heavy rains in April, no doubt we would have been looking at a new record yield. Unfortunately, we did lose several thousand acres to flooding.”

Kelley said grain quality was excellent for the most part, with many reporting test weights of 60 pounds per bushel or greater.

“Prospects look good the upcoming wheat year with good wheat prices and a much greater seed wheat supply this year compared to last year,” he said.

Arkansas’ winter wheat production was forecast Tuesday at 31.7 million bushels, up 31 percent, or 7.42 million bushels, from the June 1 forecast. That’s up 23.6 million bushels from last year. Arkansas’ harvested area is expected to be 520,000 acres, up 370,000 acres from 2010.

Nationally, winter wheat production is forecast at 1.49 billion bushels, up 3 percent from the June 1 forecast and up slightly from last year’s 1.48 billion bushels.

The winter wheat harvest in Arkansas wrapped up the last week of June.

Yields were best in the central and southern part of the state and tended to drop off farther north because of higher rainfall totals.

For more information on crop production, visit www.uaex.edu, www.arkansascrops.com, or contact your county Extension office.