Overall Rice Acreage Expected to Rise 388,000 Acres

    Area planted for rice in 2014 is expected to total 2.87 million acres, 388,000 more than 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Prospective Plantings report released today.  Planted acreage is forecast higher for three of the six major rice-producing states, with acreage in Louisiana essentially remaining the same as last year, while California and Texas will see an 18% overall reduction.  Arkansas farmers are expected to plant 445,000 more acres of rice this year than last.

    “I think that is possible and reasonable, especially if we get some dry warm weather over the next seven to 10 days,” said Dr. Chuck Wilson, director of the Rice Research and Extension Center at the University of Arkansas.  “We’re a little behind now because it’s been so cold and wet, but if the weather cooperates, I think we can get it all in.”

    Long-grain, representing 77 percent of the total rice acreage, is expected to be 446,000 acres more than last year.  Medium-grain, 21 percent of the total rice acreage, is projected to be 38,000 acres less than the previous year.  Area planted for all short-grain varieties, representing less than 1 percent of production, is anticipated to be down almost 60 percent from last year’s total.

    “Obviously, the drought in California is having a huge impact on how much rice gets planted in the Sacramento Valley this year,” said Charley Mathews, a Marysville, California rice farmer.  “How the state allocates the water that is available will determine actual acres planted.”

    Mississippi is projected to increase to 170,000 acres for 2014, a 36 percent rise.

    “I don’t see a lot of people switching over in my area,” said Gibb Steele, a Washington County, Mississippi rice grower.  “Some people thought we’d maybe be at 200,000, but with soybean and corn prices better than anticipated, and rice not quite as strong, I think 170,000 is probably right, we may come in a little lower in the end.”

    “It’s not going to be people switching over, I don’t think,” said Marvin Cochran, an Avon, Mississippi rice farmer.  “It’s going to be your typical rice farmer increasing his production.”

    The same cannot be said for Missouri where a 13 percent increase to around 180,000 acres total is predicted.

    “We’ll make 180 easy if the weather cooperates,” said Blake Gerard, a rice and seed producer in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  “You can bet it’s going to be a pretty good year when guys call over here to buy rice seed and they’ve never grown rice before, and that’s happening.  Of course if the weather turns, all bets are off.”

    The USDA report is based on information supplied to USDA by growers, and though generally accurate within 5 percent, actual planted acres could vary.  The Rice Acreage Report, based on actual planted acres, will be published at the end of June.

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