Planting Begins Across Louisiana, Texas, and Florida

    Drill seeded rows marking on a seed production field of Avant, a new long grain variety in Acadia Parish (USA Rice)

    ARLINGTON, VA – The 2023 rice crop is off to a promising start across southern regions in the U.S.

    In Louisiana, ideal weather over the last few weeks gave growers the opportunity to be in the field with minimal interruptions. Some early rice was water seeded but a majority of acres have been dry seeded, with some fields already beginning to show emergence, or “marking lines.”

    Across south Louisiana, estimates are approaching the 75 percent planted range although several growers reported they had to take a break after a cold snap moved in last weekend. The northeast region of Louisiana is gearing up for the season, but that cold snap served as a reminder to not get too anxious, and many growers are planning to wait until the end of March or early April before putting rice seed in the ground.

    Planted varieties seem to be more diverse than previous years, with many growers opting to plant more jasmine and medium grain, based on seed availability. The state’s projected acreage is a slight increase over last year, mainly in the northeast. Time will tell, as the option to switch from row rice to corn or soybeans is still in play for some acres.

    Research studies in Louisiana are going in the ground as well. A number of trials have been planted on the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley, and off-station trials have also been planted in Acadia, Evangeline, and Vermilion Parishes.

    The Texas rice crop is also progressing well. Estimates range from 30 percent of rice in the ground east of Houston to more than 50 percent west of the city which means that, for the most part, the crop is getting planted earlier than last year.

    Some rice was planted into moisture but that dried up quickly and some fields are being flushed to facilitate germination. Many farmers are waiting for an expected rain in the latter part of this week to restore ground moisture and allow then to finish up planting. What has been planted up to date is mainly conventional rice as organic fields are typically planted later.

    Water availability for rice production continues to be a problem, especially for those farmers dependent on irrigation water from the Lower Colorado River Authority. Some will receive a zero river allocation and will only be able to produce rice where ground water is an option.

    Rice production in the Everglades Agricultural Area of Florida, south of Lake Okeechobee, is on track so far. The region typically plants about 25,000 acres with 25 percent of the fields being organic production. Soil moisture can be a problem in this region, and rain is expected there late this week as well.

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