Classifying the 2012 rice harvest in south Louisiana as good, bad or mediocre is proving to be a difficult challenge.

“Some people are thrilled to death, and some are wondering what happened,” said Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia and Jefferson Davis parishes.

Courville said some farmers’ yields are exceeding 50 barrels per acre (82.5 hundredweight) while others are considerably lower, including a farmer who reported an overall harvest of 10 barrels per acre (16.5 hundredweight).

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist. “The severity of disease has made a huge difference.”

Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, agreed with that assessment. “Yields are as variable as I’ve ever seen them.”

Linscombe said blast disease was the worst this year he’s ever seen. But many farmers whose crops were minimally affected by disease had one of their best crops ever. “It was all dependent on how much blast pressure you had, and when it started.”

Linscombe said the south Louisiana harvest is about 70 percent complete.

The harvest in Vermilion Parish is more than two-thirds finished, but consistent rains are making the final third difficult to bring out of the fields, according to Stuart Gauthier, LSU AgCenter county agent. “If we wouldn’t have gotten heavy rains, we would have finished even earlier.”

Yields have been running 5-10 barrels more than last year, Gauthier said. The increase can be explained by an early planting trend and reduced disease pressure. “The rice is beautiful. It was just a good growing season.”