Arkansas Rice: Story of Haves and Have Nots – A Roll of the Weather Dice

    Crop Progress

    It’s a story of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in Arkansas rice at the moment.  You’re either fortunate enough to escape flooding damaging your rice crop, or you’re not.  You’re either fortunate enough to have little or no rice sprouting on the heads, or you’re not.  You’re either fortunate enough to keep missing rains and harvesting, or you’re not.

    Some people have been fortunate on all those counts this week.  Others have at least one issue going on and some have hit the trifecta.  All told an increasing amount of the state’s acreage is rated as poor or worse (see Market Update).

    In Randolph, Lawrence, Craighead, and Clay Counties roughly 40,000 rice acres have been affected by floodwaters from the Black, Current, and Cache Rivers.  More flooding seems possible downstream as all converge on the White River, but more rainfall would probably be needed to make those concerns a reality.

    2016-24 Fig 1 Submerged Rice Field

    Fig. 1. Flooded field with rice underwater and slightly higher elevation field behind.

    Isolated areas of the AR Delta, primarily in the east and northeast, are receiving rain today and into tonight.  It appears projected to stay east and south of the currently flooded areas.

    The 800-pound Gorilla is the tropical system that may or may not move into the Gulf next week.  Models are all over the place so it’s still anyone’s guess.  We’re currently up to 10 days or more behind in harvest progress depending on your specific plot of land.

    2016-24 Fig 1 Combine harvesting

    Fig. 2. Dry conditions in parts of the state have harvest picking up speed for some.

    Added rain next week could cause more flooding issues but would definitely further delay harvest.  The longer harvest is delayed, the greater the likelihood of the crop deteriorating.  Once reach harvest maturity, nothing good happens to the rice crop other than being harvested.

    Harvest Aids in Rice

    Sodium Chlorate and Aim are the only harvest aids labeled in rice.  Write yourself a note if you think you’ll forget.  There are NO other products, chemicals, or herbicides that are legal to use.

    Some have questioned the use of glyphosate as a harvest aid in rice.  One more time – NO.  This product is registered for use in other crops such as grain sorghum.  But it can do a great deal of harm in rice.  Glyphosate is particularly damaging to rice and stops development in its tracks.  Immature grains will not continue maturing and dropping in moisture.  They freeze in time.  This is a bad thing.

    In addition, any glyphosate that contacts younger, still maturing rice will cause devastating effects.  So if you’re spraying grain sorghum, don’t get it on rice!

    Apply sodium chlorate when rice is below 25% but above 18% moisture.  After application the foliage begins to dry down and so do the grains.  In just a few days grain moisture can be reduced by up to 5%.  As a result, planning is critical and harvest should occur no more than 4-7 days after application and avoid applications just prior to rainy periods.

    2016-24 Fig 2 Harvest aid

    Fig. 2. Field treated with a harvest aid.

    More on the Issue of Sprouting Rice

    How widespread is the issue?

    Luckily the severity of sprouting is not extreme statewide.  There are plenty of pictures around and shown here last week displaying how bad it can be.  The reality is on average small sprouts can be found on a few kernels per panicle throughout a field or only on scattered panicles.  That is more the reality of the situation.  There are fields that are drastically worse, and there are plenty of fields where it is very difficult to find.  The bottom line is the issue will cause milling yield problems.

    Are any cultivars more prone than others?

    No.  Maturity at the time of the weather event is the dominant factor.  The more mature (dry) the rice in the field, the more likely sprouting is to occur.  There isn’t a group of cultivars (hybrids vs. varieties) with more sprouting than the other.

    A second, minor consideration is plant architecture for specific cultivars.  If panicles are held in the canopy in certain ways it does seem to increase the incidence of sprouting a little.  For instance, on plants where panicles are held high in the canopy and the flag leaf is low and flat the panicles can rest on those leaves where water also collects – increasing sprouting if kernels are dry enough.

    How is it going to hurt me?

    Any discoloration or damage to the kernel as a result of sprouting will mostly cause some discoloration where the sprout is (or was if it has broken off).  However, once rice is milled so it can be graded, the sprout and damaged area are polished away and won’t affect the grade.  Or the sprouting is severe enough to weaken the kernel and it is broken up in the milling process.  In these instances the outcome is reduced milling yield (which we’re currently seeing).  However, the quality of the rice after the milling is very good, just the milling yields are reduced.

    Market Update

    The impact of the recent heavy rains began to show in Monday’s Crop Progress report. The National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) rated 19% of Arkansas’ rice crop “poor” to “very poor” as of August 21st. This compares with 11% the previous week. Likewise, the percentage of Louisiana’s crop rated “poor” to “very poor” increased from 8% the previous week to 17% currently.  Using USDA’s August projections of harvested acres, approximately 378,000 acres of rice in Arkansas and Louisiana combined would be considered in “poor” to “very poor” condition.

    2016-24 Table 1 Rice Condition

    Click Image to Enlarge

    As expected, little to no harvest progress was made last week.  Any adjustments were likely fine-tuning.  As of August 21st, Arkansas’ rice crop was 4% harvested; in line with the 5-year average.

    2016-24 Table 2 Rice Harvested

    Table 2. USDA-NASS Crop Progress: Rice Harvested (%). Click Image to Enlarge

    USDA-FAS Long-Grain Export Sales:

    • Rough Rice

    Net Sales totaled 16,451 metric tons (MT) last week.  Sales were down from the previous week’s total of 56,181 MT which included a 30,000 MT sale to Venezuela and a 16,880 MT sale to an unknown buyer.  For the week ending August 18, rough rice shipments totaled 13,302 MT with all going to Mexico.

    • Milled Rice

    Net Sales to 18 foreign buyers last week totaled 3,112 MT, down from the previous week’s total of 19,567 MT which had included a 13,220 MT sale to Saudi Arabia.  Shipments totaled 12,476 MT last week with over half the total (7,125 MT) going to Haiti–the largest buyer of milled rice thus far in the 2016/17 marketing year.

    To date, long-grain export sales are running 36% behind last year’s pace.  Most of this difference is attributed to slower milled rice sales which are  about 127,000 MT less than last year’s total at this time.  At this point last year the U.S. had sold a total of 120,000 MT to Iran and Iraq.  That accounts for much of the year-to-year decline in milled rice sales.

    Rough rice sales to date are 22% behind a year ago.  Of particular concern would be sales to Mexico, which had reached 134,600 MT by this point last year.  To date, 2016/17 sales to Mexico are 45,019 MT.

    2016-24 Fig 3 US Long Grain Export Sales-1

    Market Commentary:

    November rice futures reversed sharply higher Friday morning (8/26) following three consecutive days of losses.  The market’s attention may finally be turning to a storm system (referred to as 99L) that is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico next week.

    This is a disorganized storm which has made it difficult to predict both the direction and intensity.   As of Friday morning it appears likely that 99L will enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico by the start of next week. There is not complete agreement among all models, but some do indicate the system will intensify as it moves across the Gulf; certainly worth keeping an eye on.

    2016-24 Fig 4 CBOT Nov 2016 Rice Futures

    Fig. 5. CBOT November 2016 Rice Futures. Click Image to Enlarge

    2016-24 Fig 5 99L Computer Models

    Fig. 6. 99L Computer Models (8:00 a.m. August 26). Click Image to Enlarge

    2016-24 Table 3 USDA Report Calendar

    Table 3. USDA Report Calendar.

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