Louisiana's rice harvest is “best described as disappointing thus far,” says John Saichuk. “Of four verification fields, three have yielded around 37 barrels per acre, and one was at 50 barrels. Similar up-and-down numbers are being reported across the state.”

Farmers are telling Saichuk, the state Extension rice specialist, yields aren't close to what fields appear capable of yielding. “The fields look terrific, but when you look at what's been cut, you ask, ‘what happened?’”

Mixed with off-yield fields are those cutting well. “Yields are totally inconsistent. I know one farm with a history of great production that has a 15-barrel swing between fields. That's huge on one operation. It's just a weird year.”

When asked about the disparity, Saichuk points not to the excessive rain that fell on Louisiana this summer but to the cloud cover that went with it.

“We lacked sunshine at critical times during the season,” he says. “Our rice just couldn't get around that.”

In Arkansas, Chuck Wilson says some rice harvesting has begun, but he's yet to get any yield reports.

“The cool weather we've been having has slowed drying,” says the Extension rice specialist. “I anticipate some more cutting done by (the second week of August).”

Wilson was concerned by several recent nights of 55-degree temperatures. “A string of those nights aren't good for later rice in the boot stage.

“It was only a couple of days of those temps, so I don't think it'll be a problem. I just hope we don't have a week's worth of them anytime soon.”


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com