In big contrast from last year, rice looking good in Louisiana and Mississippi


CROWLEY, La. (AP) — Agriculture experts in Louisiana and Mississippi say the rice crop is looking good.

“It’s a big contrast from last year,” Jeremy Hebert, AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish, said in a news release Friday from the Louisiana State University AgCenter. “Things actually worked out in farmers’ favor.”

Louisiana is about halfway through its harvest, and its yield — the amount per acre — could at least tie for second-highest ever, said Dustin Harrell a rice specialist at the AgCenter.

Mississippi’s harvest is about to begin and the state’s estimated 150,000 acres (about 60,700 hectares) of rice look very good, said Mississippi State University Extension Service rice expert Bobby Golden.

U.S. Agriculture Department statistics show Louisiana planted about 430,000 acres of rice this year. Arkansas, with 1.4 million acres, leads the nation and California is second at 507,000 acres. Missouri farmers planted 219,000 acres, and those in Texas 184,000.

“Conditions were almost perfect for growing rice” this year — unlike last year, when bad weather left Louisiana farmers only about 6,300 pounds of rice per acre, Harrell said in a news release Friday.

He estimated the current crop at 7,250 pounds per acre, just 50 pounds an acre below the record set in 2016.

There also is far less disease, said plant pathologist Don Groth.

Golden, based at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said the first Mississippi farmers to plant rice may be able to start draining their fields the second week of August.

“There is some extremely good-looking rice out there, but it’s too early to tell where our yields will be,” Golden said in a news release Friday.

Louisiana only planted about 5,000 more acres of rice this year than last. Mississippi State extension row-crop economist Will Maple noted that the total was up more than 30% in Mississippi and 15% nationally.

That likely will hurt prices, he said.

“The national average farm price for long-grain rice is projected down this year at $11.60 per hundredweight from $12 last year,” Maples said.