Agriculture Magazine November 2019

A Look at Arkansas Commodities

Arkansas Commodities

by Lauren McLemore

More than 49,000 farms are operated in Arkansas, 97 percent of them family-owned, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau. Sixteen percent of farms produce 92 percent of production. Here’s a look at what’s being produced on Arkansas farms:


Arkansas leads the nation in rice production, responsible for nearly half of the rice produced in the U.S. Most Arkansas-grown rice is exported and in return, it provides the state’s economy with more than $4 billion each year. 

With around 2,500 chicken-producing farms, Arkansas ranks second in the nation in broiler production. In 2016, broiler production brought in around $3.1 billion to the state.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation for soybean production. About 50 percent of it is exported. An estimated $889 million was calculated from Arkansas soybean exports in 2017. 

Arkansas has 18.8 million acres of forest land representing approximately 56 percent of the total land base: 58 percent owned by private landowners; 7 percent publicly owned, and 25 percent owned by the forestry industry. Arkansas is the fifth-largest softwood lumber producing state.

Third in the nation for catfish production, Arkansas devotes around 11,000 acres to aquaculture. In 2016, it was the only animal-production commodity to experience an increase in value. 

Arkansas corn is used mostly in-state as chicken feed, in turn helping the state maintain its status as the No. 2 broiler producer. Arkansas farmers planted 760,000 acres of corn in 2016, down from 1 million in 2013. The five-year average for corn acreage in Arkansas is 670,000. 

Nationally, Arkansas is a top 5 cotton producer. In 2017, the 2016 Arkansas Crop Production Annual Summary revealed that 375,000 acres of cotton were harvested in the state. 

Grain Sorghum
This drought-tolerant crop’s production comes with many benefits. Arkansas-grown grain sorghum is often exported via the nearby Mississippi River. The estimated value of the crop in 2015 was $172 million. 

Arkansas regularly ranks in the nation’s top 25 for farms with beef cows and has more than 25,000 cattle-producing farms in the state. 

More than 1.8 million pigs are produced annually in the state. The total value of Arkansas’ pork production is more than $80 million each year.

Having harvested around 60,000 acres in 2019, Arkansas is in the nation’s top 10 for wheat production, particularly soft red winter wheat. 

Arkansas is a top 10 national peanut producer. More than 13,500 acres were planted in 2014, and peanuts contributed more than $8 million to the state’s economy in 2016. 

Almost $50 million worth of horticulture products come from nursery and greenhouse products. More than 3 million pounds of tomatoes, the state’s top vegetable crop, are produced annually. Peach production, Arkansas’ largest fruit crop, annually tops 10 million pounds.

Sources: University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Farm Bureau 

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