In Arkansas, rice quality is not a novel issue.

“Buyers, in general, want the highest quality rice,” says Keith Glover, president of Producers Rice Mill in Stuttgart. “We strive to achieve that. The quality issue was highlighted due to an overall bad rice crop because of record heat during the summer of 2010. The quality was not as good as in years past.”

For more on the 2010 quality issues and fallout, see here, here and here.

Glover, who has been in the milling business for 30 years, says there have always been customers who demand certain varieties. “That’s nothing new. Certain accounts, for whatever reason, say certain varieties work better than others. Even though there’s a lot of talk about that currently, it isn’t something that’s happened overnight.”

An example of this, says Glover, “is when we used to sell rice to the European market and they used to demand that the rice be a Newbonnet-type variety. A lot of industrial accounts prefer one variety over another because of amylase content or something else.”

As for chalk, “the University of Arkansas has done a lot research. In general, when there are hot summers, there will be more chalk in all varieties.”

In recent weeks, Glover says many farmers have asked if the mill will have separate marketing programs, or pools, for hybrids versus non-hybrids. “For the 2012 crop, we will not. They will all be in the same pool.”