In their September release, USDA forecasts U.S. long grain rice producers to produce a record 181.5 million hundredweight. By any measure that is a tremendous crop.

In 2000, U.S. long grain rice producers produced 129 million hundredweight; 2001, 168 million hundredweight; 2002, 157 million hundredweight; 2003, 149 million hundredweight; and 2004 169 million hundredweight.

Total U.S. long grain supply is projected to be a record 215 million hundredweight. or 14 percent above last year and 23 percent above 2003/04. Long grain imports are at a record 11.3 million hundredweight, 7 percent higher than the past marketing period and 28 percent higher than 2000/01.

Even with 2005/06 near record long grain exports of 98 million hundredweight, total ending stocks are projected to be the second largest since 1986 at 26.4 million hundredweight. Total ending stocks were 11.6 million hundredweight in 2000/01, 26.8 million hundredweight in 2001/02, 15.7 million hundredweight in 2002/03, 10.3 million hundredweight in 2003/04 and 22.7 million hundredweight in 2004/05.

2005 U.S. medium grain production is projected to be lowest since 1998 at 46.9 million hundredweight and a total supply of 64.4 million hundredweight is the lowest since 1999. Total 2005/06 medium grain exports of 23 million hundredweight are below last year’s 27.5 million hundredweight but up compared to 1997 and 1998’s 15.4, 1999’s 18.6, 2000’s 17.9 and 2003’s 22.3. 2005/06 ending stocks are the lowest since USDA started keeping medium grain records in 1982. U.S. all rice production in 2005/06 is projected to be the second largest on record at 228.3 million hundredweight. Harvested area is projected to be the third largest on record at 3.34 million acres. Harvested acreage was larger in 1981 with 3.79 million acres and 1999 with 3.51 million acres.

The average all rice yield is estimated at 6,830 pounds per acre or 152 bushels per acre, which is the second largest on record but below last year’s 6942 pounds or 154 bushels per acre.

In their September forecast, USDA raised rough rice exports by 2 million hundredweight, while combined milled and brown rice exports are lowered 2 million hundredweight. U.S. all rice ending stocks are projected at 33.9 million hundredweight. USDA’s season-average all rice farm price is projected at $7.25 to $7.55 per hundredweight or $3.26 to 3.40 per bushel.

Arkansas’ rice producers are projected to produce 112.5 million hundredweight of rice this year compared to 107 million hundredweight last year. California rice producers are forecast to produce an estimated 40 million hundredweight this year followed by Louisiana’s 31 million hundredweight, Mississippi’s 17 million hundredweight, Missouri’s 14.4 million hundredweight, and Texas’ 14.1 million hundredweight.

USDA makes some excellent points about the medium grain rice trade with medium grain trade defined as medium grain exports to significant medium grain markets of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Libya, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. The medium grain market is experiencing unusual shifts in market share due to tight global supplies and moderate growth in import demand. They make the following points: ¨ -- Australia’s rice crop – virtually all medium grain – is now estimated to be the smallest in over 30 years as severe drought and limited irrigation continue to plague production and limit exportable supplies. ¨ -- Global medium grain trade is up slightly year-to-year. -- The vast majority of trade is a direct result of World Trade Organization (WTO) import commitments (i.e., Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) there is a small, yet significant, increase in import demand in some Middle East markets, such as Libya and Jordan. ¨ -- Australia is expected to try to maintain market share in the large WTO markets, its competitors – China, Egypt, and the United States – are picking up additional business in the smaller growth markets. ¨ -- In 2005, Egypt’s exports are estimated to increase approximately 18 percent from 2004 and 50 percent from just a few years ago (2002) with more sales to the Middle East. ¨ -- The United States has benefited from Australia’s loss with larger exports to a handful of relatively small markets in the Middle East.”

Global rice consumption still exceeds production. Global rice production for 2005/06 is projected at 405.6 million tons (milled basis), while global rice consumption in 2005/06 is projected at 413.4 million tons. Global ending stocks for 2005/06 are projected at 65.6 million tons, 11 percent below a year earlier, and making ending stocks the smallest since 1982/83.

This is the fifth consecutive year of declining global ending stocks, with China accounting for most of the 5-year decline.

Global rice trade is down for the fourth consecutive year. For calendar year 2006 global rice trade is projected at 25 million tons (milled basis), 7 percent below 2005. USDA points out that on an annual basis, weaker exports from India, Vietnam, Egypt, China, and Pakistan are projected to more than offset larger shipments from the United States, Thailand, Uruguay, Argentina, and Australia.

USDA export prices for the early September are as follows: ¨ -- Thailand's high-quality 100 percent Grade B (free on board vessel, Bangkok) milled rice for export were $288 per ton.

-- Vietnam's 5 percent brokens (free on board vessel, Ho Chi Minh City) were $255 per ton.

-- U.S. southern long grain rice (No. 2, 4 percent brokens, bagged, free on board, U.S. Gulf port) were $295 per ton.

-- U.S. long grain rough rice for export (bulk, free on board vessel at New Orleans, Louisiana) were $165 per ton.

The slide show that accompanies this article is available on the internet at http://www.aragriculture.org/agfoodpolicy/ricesitol/graphics/September152005.pdf

Bobby Coats is Extension agricultural policy analyst with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Contact him at rcoats@uaex.edu.