Ready, Set, Harvest … in the South

    All hands at harvest for Florida Crystals in Palm Beach County, Florida (photo submitted by Daniel Cavazos)

    MOUNTAIN HOME, TX – Rice harvest is already under way in the Everglades Agricultural Area of southern Florida and will soon begin in southwest Louisiana and in Texas, west of Houston.

    Florida Crystals in western Palm Beach County began harvest late last week with their medium grain variety Titan. While it is too early to gauge the crop as yet, yields appear promising.

    Louisiana rice farmers are cautiously optimistic on the yield and quality potential of this season’s crop. The first fields to be harvested in the southwest region will probably be that of Avant, the new, very early long grain variety that was developed at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley.

    The recent hot, dry weather has held most diseases in check. While sheath blight is present in most fields, it appears to be less severe than usual, at least in the earliest maturing fields. There are no reported outbreaks of panicle blight or rotten-neck blast disease though leaf blast has been observed in Jupiter.

    “The rice appears to be maturing quickly and grain fill appears excellent with very little blanking,” said Dr. Ronnie Levy, rice specialist with the Louisiana State University AgCenter. “The jury is still out on whether the recent high temperatures will have any detrimental impacts on yield and quality.”

    Rice farmers are also hopeful that they will not be subjected to a repeat of last year’s harvest season when rainfall hampered the entire cutting period.

    Harvest in Texas will begin a little later than Louisiana, but samples may be cut next week at the soonest, although most is at least two weeks from maturity. Quite a few fields will be drained this week.

    “Growers in our region are optimistic about this year’s crop but are concerned about the recent heat,” said Timothy Gertson who farms near Lissie. “In general, the crop looks good and seems to be maturing rapidly.”

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