Location Matters Most in 2020 U.S. Rice Crop Progress

Drill-planter raises dust in brown dirt field, blue sky, dark green trees and water tower in distance
Drill planting
May 21, 2020
MOUNTAIN HOME, TX -- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service Information (NASS) as of Sunday, May 17, the following percentages of the U.S. rice crop were planted-emerged:  Arkansas (76-58), California (88-25), Louisiana (91-86), Mississippi (76-49), Missouri (60-46), and (Texas (97-92).  

The rice areas of California, Texas, and southwest Louisiana have had excellent planting conditions for the most part.

California rice country has had a very dry spring, which allowed growers to get in early.  “We just had some rain this past weekend, and when growers saw rain in the forecast, they pushed to get as much as they could in,” said Bruce Linquist, rice extension agronomist at UC Davis.  “I think by the end of this week we will be close to 95 percent planted.  This puts us about five days to a week ahead of a normal year.”  Christine Wylie, who farms near Colusa, has completed planting although her operation’s acreage was limited by a 75 percent water allotment this year.  

The report on the Texas crop comes from Scott Savage in Matagorda County who said that Texas is basically planted and probably 50-60 percent has a permanent flood.  Dustin Harrell, rice specialist with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, estimates that 85 percent of the southwest Louisiana crop is flooded and over 25 percent has reached the panicle initiation stage.  Both Savage and Harrell said that other than one cool snap, growing conditions have been excellent for the southern belt crop.

Things have been a bit more challenging in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and north Louisiana, where continual rainy weather impeded planting.  However, more favorable weather over the past 2-3 weeks has facilitated planting progress in some areas of the region.  Some producers are completely planted, but others have yet to put a seed into the ground, depending on location.

Jarrod Hardke, rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas, said the first Arkansas rice has gone to flood over the previous week or so, and that rains this past weekend in northeast Arkansas may lead to some of the potential rice acreage there going to Prevented Planting.

Geographic variations in planting progress exist for Mississippi growers as well, according to Bobby Golden, agronomist with Mississippi State University.  “I would agree with the NASS numbers for Mississippi.  Some areas of the state, like the far north delta and part of the mid-delta, are lagging behind due to persistent wet weather.  Rains have been sporadic and non-uniform throughout the rice growing region, recently.”

“Little rice in the state has been planted over the last few days because of wet conditions,” said David Martin, with Martin Rice Company in Bernie, Missouri.  “We are around 50-60 percent planted and all the emerged rice looks good, but needs warmer weather, fertilizer, and at least one more herbicide application.  The NASS numbers for Missouri should hold.”

Elliot Maschmann, with RiceTec, agrees that Missouri is 60-65 percent planted but said some producers have not been able to get in the field for three weeks because of persistent rain.

“The north Louisiana rice crop is 80 percent planted,” said Scott Franklin, who farms in Rayville.  “The region has progressed well in the past two weeks as far as planting.”  Marley Oldham with Kennedy Rice Mill said their growers are 75 percent planted overall, with the majority of that in long grain varieties, while over 95 percent of the medium grain acreage in north Louisiana is planted.  Jason Waller, who farms near Mer Rouge, is 60 percent planted with no fields flooded yet.

According to USDA prospective planting estimates, rice acreage is expected to rise above 2019 levels in all six states, totaling a 12.1 percent national bump in plantings.