Rice Outlook: Plantings Indicated at 2.92M Acres

The March 2015 Prospective Plantings report indicated 2015/16 U.S. rice area at 2.92 million acres, down just 24,000 acres from a year earlier. Intended plantings of both long-grain and medium- and short-grain rice were indicated slightly below 2014/15 plantings. Growers indicated smaller plantings in 2015/16 in Arkansas and California. The pace of planting the 2015/16 U.S. rice crop is even with a year earlier but behind the U.S. 5-year average, mainly due to wet conditions in the Delta and Texas.

The only 2014/15 U.S. supply-side revision this month was a 0.5-million cwt increase in the U.S. import forecast to 23.5 million cwt. On the use side, the domestic and residual use forecast was lowered 2.0 million cwt to 129.0 million cwt, while the 2014/15 export forecast was raised 1.0 million cwt to 105 million cwt. These revisions resulted in a 1.5- million cwt increase in the ending stocks forecast to 42.4 million cwt, up 33 percent from a year earlier.

The midpoint of the 2014/15 SAFP range for U.S. long-grain rice was lowered 20 cents to $12.30 per cwt. The midpoint of the combined medium- and short-grain 2014/15 U.S. season-average farm price (SAFP) range was raised 10 cents to $18.60 per cwt. The midpoint of the 2014/15 all-rice U.S. SAFP was lowered 10 cents $14.20 per cwt.

Domestic Outlook

U.S. 2015/16 Rice Area Indicated at 2.92 Million Acres

The March 2015 Prospective Plantings report indicated 2015/16 U.S. rice area at 2.92 million acres, down just 24,000 acres from a year earlier. Total plantings are indicated nearly unchanged from a year earlier in the South.

U.S. long-grain plantings are indicated at 2.20 million acres, down 10,000 acres from 2014/15, with Arkansas accounting for almost all of the intended decline. Long-grain plantings were indicated higher in the remaining Southern rice-growing States. Virtually all long-grain rice is grown in the South.

Combined medium- and short-grain plantings in 2015/16 are indicated at 718,000 acres, a decline of 14,000 acres from a year earlier, with another year of smaller plantings in California more than offsetting a slight expansion in medium- and short-grain plantings in the South.

The intended area decline in California is the result of another year of water restrictions caused by continued drought and low reservoir levels. Expansion in Southern medium-grain plantings is based on higher returns for medium-grain than long-grain rice and expected tighter supplies of California medium-grain rice.

Growers in Arkansas indicated 2015/16 total rice plantings at 1.44 million acres, down 45,000 acres from a year earlier. A 50,000-acre intended reduction in long-grain Arkansas’ plantings to 1.22 million acres more than offset a slight expansion in Arkansas’ medium-grain plantings. Arkansas typically accounts for 70-80 percent of Southern medium-grain area.

In nearby Missouri, 2015/16 rice plantings are indicated at 225,000 acres, up 9,000 acres from a year earlier and the highest since the record 253,000 acres were planted in 2010/11. Long-grain accounts for the bulk of Missouri’s rice production and all of the intended 2015/16 area expansion.

Mississippi’s growers indicated 2015/16 rice plantings at 211,000 acres, 20,000 acres above a year earlier and the highest since 2010/11. Almost all rice grown in Mississippi is long-grain.

Rice plantings in Louisiana are indicated 480,000 acres, up 4 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 2010/11. Louisiana’s long-grain area was indicated at 400,000 acres, up 2 percent from 2014/15. At 80,000 acres, intended plantings of medium-grain rice in Louisiana are up 10,000 acres from a year earlier and the highest since 1995/96.

In Texas, growers indicated 2015/16 rice plantings at 150,000 acres, unchanged from a year earlier but still below levels reported prior to the enactment of water restrictions beginning in 2012/13. A slight expansion in long-grain area in Texas was offset by an intended decline in medium-grain plantings to 5,000 acres.

At 408,000 acres, intended rice plantings in California are 6 percent below a year earlier and the lowest since 1992/93. The 2015/16 intended-area decline is the result of water restrictions and resulting low reservoir levels due to the 4-year drought that caused area to decline more than 23 percent in 2014/15. Medium-grain plantings are indicated at 375,000 acres, a decline of 20,000 acres from a year earlier and the lowest since 1992/93. At 31,000 acres, California short-grain plantings are 4,000 acres below a year earlier and the smallest since 2002/03.

Almost all U.S. short-grain rice is grown in California. At 2,000 acres, California long-grain intended plantings are half the level of a year earlier.

Indicated U.S. plantings are based on a survey of growers conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in early March. Actual plantings may differ from reported intentions. The first survey of actual plantings of the 2015/16 crop will be conducted in early June and reported in the Acreage report to be released on June 30, 2015.

Wet Conditions, Slow Planting in Delta and Texas

The pace of planting the 2015/16 U.S. rice crop is even with a year earlier but behind the U.S. 5-year average. For the week ending April 5, 14 percent of the U.S. 2015/16 rice crop was reported planted, unchanged from a year earlier but behind the U.S. 5-year average of 18 percent. In Arkansas, just 6 percent of the crop was reported planted by April 5, nearly the same as a year earlier but well below the State’s 5-year average of 13 percent. The slower planting pace this year has been due to excessive rainfall this spring.

In nearby Missouri, none of the 2015/16 rice crop was reported planted by April 5, compared with 2 percent a year earlier and the State’s 5-year average of 7 percent. The slower pace was also due to rain.

Mississippi’s 2015/16 rice crop was reported 9 percent planted, 4 percentage points ahead of last year but slightly below the 5-year average of 10 percent.

Plantings were farther along in the Gulf Coast States. In Louisiana, 63 percent of the 2015/16 rice crop was reported planted by April 5, ahead of last year’s pace of 52 percent and 7 percentage points ahead of the State’s 5-year average. Conditions in Louisiana have been favorable for planting rice this year.

The Texas 2015/16 rice crop was reported 21 percent planted by April 5, behind 35 percent a year ago and well behind the State’s 5-year average of 47 percent. The slower pace is the result of excessive rains and wet fields. Early planting is needed for Texas growers to harvest a ratoon crop–a partial second crop grown late in the season from the stubble remaining in the field after the first crop harvest.

Planting has not yet begun in California, typical for the State this early in the year.

For the week ending April 5, 3 percent of the U.S. rice crop had emerged, 1 percentage point behind the U.S. 5-year average. Louisiana was the only State reporting emergence of the 2015/16 rice crop, with 17 percent of its 2015/16 rice crop reported emerged by April 5, well ahead of the State’s 5-year average of 11 percent. Emergence typically begins in the first week of April in the South.

U.S. 2014/15 Import Forecast Raised to 23.5 Million Cwt

The only supply-side revision this month was a 0.5-million cwt increase in the 2014/15 U.S. import forecast to 23.5 million cwt, 2 percent above a year earlier and the second highest on record. The upward revision was based on larger than expected imports of rice from Thailand in February.

At 56,651 tons, U.S. imports of Thailand’s rice in February were the highest since May 2014 and were 63 percent above a month earlier. Thailand supplies about 60 percent of total U.S. rice imports, with its premium jasmine rice, an aromatic, accounting for most of these purchases.

Long-grain accounted for all of the upward revision in imports. At 20.0 million cwt, U.S. 2014/15 long-grain rice imports are projected to be 2 percent above a year earlier and the highest on the record. Most U.S. long-grain rice imports are aromatics from India, Pakistan, and Thailand, with Thailand the largest supplier.

In some years, Vietnam supplies brokens to the United States. Medium- and short-grain imports remain projected at 3.5 million cwt, nearly unchanged from 2013/14. Similarly to 2013/14, the U.S. has imported brokens from Australia, taking about 21,000 tons in December 2014 compared with about 28,000 tons in November 2013. These shipments of Australian brokens are included in the medium- and short-grain import estimates.

Australia is a major exporter of medium- and short-grain rice. Thailand typically supplies about 2 million cwt of specialty rice classified as medium- and short-grain rice each year to the United States. Italy ships a much smaller amount of Arborio rice to the United States each year.

All-rice beginning stocks for 2014/15 remain estimated at 31.8 million cwt, 13 percent below a year earlier. The 2014/15 long-grain carryin remains estimated at 16.2 million cwt, 26 percent smaller than a year earlier. The medium- and short-grain carryin remains estimated at 13.3 million cwt, 9 percent larger than a year earlier. Stocks of brokens, included in estimates of total supply and total stocks, are not included in supplies or stocks by class.

The 2014/15 U.S. rice crop remains estimated at 221.0 million cwt (hundredweight, rough basis), 16 percent above a year earlier. The bumper crop is the result of an 18-percent increase in harvested area to 2.92 million acres. The average U.S. yield of 7,572 pounds per acre is 122 pounds below a year earlier, but still the second highest on record.

By class, 2014/15 long-grain production remains estimated at 162.4 million cwt, 23 percent above a year earlier. Combined medium- and short-grain production remains estimated at 58.7 million cwt, 1 percent larger than a year earlier, with the South accounting for all of the increase.

Total U.S. supplies of rice in 2014/15 are projected at 276.4 million cwt, up 0.5 million cwt from last month’s forecast and 11 percent higher than a year earlier. These are the largest total U.S. rice supplies since the 2010/11 record of 297.9 million cwt. In 2014/15, a much larger crop and slightly higher imports more than offsets a smaller carryin.

Long-grain supplies are projected at 198.6 million cwt, up 0.5 million cwt from last month’s forecast and 15 percent above a year earlier. Medium- and short-grain total supplies in 2014/15 remain projected at 75.5 million cwt, 2 percent above a year earlier, mostly due to a larger carryin.

U.S. 2014/15 Long-Grain Export Forecast Raised 1.0 Million Cwt to 73.0 Million Cwt

Total use of U.S. rice in 2014/15 is projected at 234.0 million cwt, down 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast but 7.5 percent larger than a year earlier. This month, a reduction in total domestic and residual use more than offset a higher export forecast. Both total domestic use (including a residual component) and exports are projected to be larger in 2014/15 than a year earlier.

Total long-grain use in 2014/15 remains projected at 171.0 million cwt, 9 percent larger than a year earlier. Combined medium- and short-grain rice total use is projected at 63.0 million cwt, down 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast but still 4 percent higher than a year earlier.

Total domestic and residual use of all rice in 2014/15 is projected at 129.0 million cwt, 2.0 million cwt below last month’s forecast but still 3 percent larger than a year earlier. This month’s downward revision in the U.S. domestic and residual forecast was based on total use implied from the March Rice Stocks report. U.S. rice stocks on March 1 of 120.8 million cwt (combined milled- and rough-rice stocks on a rough basis) were higher than expected, with stocks 24 percent above a year earlier and the highest since 2011.

The implied all-rice domestic and residual use for December 2014 – February 2015 was down 8 percent from the previous market year, and 5 percent below the previous 4-year average.

On an annual basis, the higher domestic and residual use forecast for 2014/15 is mainly based on the larger crop. Long-grain domestic and residual use is projected at 98.0 million cwt, down 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast but still 3 percent above a year earlier. Combined medium- and short-grain domestic and residual use is forecast at 31.0 million cwt, also down 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast but still 5 percent larger than a year earlier.

Total U.S. rice exports in 2014/15 are projected at 105.0 million cwt, up 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast and 13 percent larger than a year earlier. This month’s upward revision was based on stronger than expected sales to Latin America, the largest market for U.S. rice. The year-to-year increase in U.S. exports projected for 2014/15 is primarily based on larger U.S. supplies and expectations that more competitive U.S. prices will increase sales to major markets in Latin America and the Middle East.

U.S. 2014/15 long-grain exports are projected at 73.0 million cwt, up 1.0 million from last month’s forecast and 18 percent above a year earlier. Through April 2, U.S. commercial exports and outstanding sales of long-grain were ahead of a year earlier to the Caribbean and South America, with Colombia and Venezuela accounting for most of the year-to-year increase.

The Latin America is the largest export market for U.S. long-grain rice, typically accounting for two-thirds of U.S. long-grain shipments, with rough-rice accounting for the bulk of U.S. shipments to the Latin America. The major Asian rice exporters do not ship rough rice out of the region and ship milled rice mostly within Asia and to Africa and the Middle East.

The Middle East and Canada are the next largest markets for U.S. long-grain rice, taking almost exclusively milled-rice from the United States. The United States typically faces its strongest competition with Asian exporters in the Middle East.

Combined medium- and short-grain U.S. exports in 2014/15 remain projected at 32.0 million cwt, 7 percent larger than a year earlier. Northeast Asia and the Middle East (including North Africa) account for the bulk of U.S. medium- and short-grain exports, with Northeast Asia–Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan–typically taking almost two-thirds of total U.S. medium- and short-grain exports.

These annual Northeast Asia sales typically begin in late September and are all the result of agreements under the World Trade Organization. Through April 2, commercial exports and outstanding sales were ahead of a year earlier to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, with outstanding sales to Japan at almost 245,000 tons.

Except for Northeast Asia, there have been few sales of U.S. medium- and short-grain rice over the past month.

By type, U.S. rough-rice exports remain projected at 35.0 million cwt, up 22 percent from a year earlier. Through April 2, U.S. commercial sales and shipments of rough-rice were ahead of a year earlier to Colombia and Venezuela. In contrast, rough-rice shipments and outstanding sales to Mexico–the largest market for U.S. rough-rice–were 13 percent behind a year earlier for the week ending April 2.

Long-grain accounts for the bulk of U.S. rough-rice exports, with Latin America the top regional market. Southern long-grain accounts for nearly all of the U.S. roughrice shipments to Latin America. Turkey and Libya account for most U.S. medium- and short-grain rough-rice exports. Mexico imports a small amount of U.S. medium- and short-grain rough-rice.

Combined milled- and brown-rice exports (on a rough basis) are projected at 70.0 million cwt, up 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast and 9 percent larger than a year earlier. Through April 2, combined U.S. exports and sales of milled rice were ahead of a year earlier to the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, and Northeast Asia; but behind last year’s pace to Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The expected increase in 2014/15 in U.S. milled-rice exports is based on lower U.S. prices, a much smaller U.S. price difference over Asian competitors, and larger U.S. supplies.

Through April 2, combined commercial exports and outstanding sales of all rice reported in the weekly U.S. Export Sales totaled 2.83 million tons (product-weight), 9 percent larger than a year earlier. Commercial exports were 3 percent behind a year earlier, while outstanding commercial sales were 55 percent ahead of a year earlier. There were substantial differences in sales and shipments by class and type.

At 1.072 million tons, U.S. long-grain rough-rice outstanding commercial sales and shipments were 19 percent ahead of a year earlier for the week ending April 2, with shipments 14-percent ahead and outstanding sales 34-percent ahead. Venezuela accounts for most of the year-to-year increase.

Combined shipments and outstanding sales of long-grain rough-rice were also ahead of a year earlier to Costa Rica and Colombia. In contrast, commercial shipments and sales of long-grain rough-rice to Mexico were 11 percent behind a year earlier.

Medium- and short-grain U.S. rough-rice exports and outstanding sales of 210,600 tons were 7 percent behind a year earlier for the week ending April 2. Sales of medium- and short-grain rough-rice have been quite small since late December; shipments have been light since mid-January.

Turkey is the largest buyer of U.S. medium- and short-grain rough-rice. Libya is the second largest market for U.S. medium- and short-grain rough-rice exports. Combined shipments and outstanding sales to Libya were 38 percent behind a year earlier for the week ending April 2.

Long-grain milled-rice commercial exports and sales totaled 857,300 tons for the week ending April 2 and were up 15 percent from a year earlier. Combined sales and shipments were ahead of a year earlier to Iraq, Colombia, and Haiti.

In contrast, medium- and short-grain milled-rice exports and outstanding sales of 625,300 tons were 4 percent behind a year earlier for the week ending April 2. Shipments were 32 percent behind last year’s pace, while outstanding sales were 79 percent ahead.

Commercial sales and shipments of medium- and short-grain milled rice were behind a year earlier to the Mediterranean, but were ahead to Northeast Asia.

March 1, 2015, U.S. Rice stocks Up 24 Percent from a Year Earlier

Based on data from the March Rice Stocks report, U.S. rice stocks (combined milled- and rough-rice stocks on a rough-rice basis) are estimated at 120.8 million cwt, 23.6 million cwt above a year earlier. Long-grain stocks on March 1 are estimated at 74.0 million cwt, 24 percent above a year earlier. Combined medium- and short-grain stocks on March 1 are estimated at 42.9 million cwt, an increase of 22 percent from a year earlier.

More than three-fourths of all medium- and short-grain U.S. rice stocks on March 1 were in California. Stocks of broken kernel rice–not reported by grain length–on March 1 are estimated at 3.9 million cwt, an increase of 49 percent from a year earlier.

Rice stocks on March 1, 2015 were larger than a year earlier in all reported States except Texas, the only Southern State to report a production decline in 2014/15. Arkansas accounted for 30 percent of all U.S. rice stocks on March 1, 2015. At 56.8 million cwt, rice stocks (rough- and milled-rice stocks on a rough-basis) in Arkansas were 35 percent higher than a year earlier.

California’s March 1 rice stocks of 36.0 million cwt were 14 percent higher than a year earlier, despite a 22- percent decline in production from 2013/14. Some of the increase in California rice stocks was likely due to slower marketings caused by the dock workers’ strike that ended in February.

Louisiana’s March 1 rice stocks are estimated at 12.0 million cwt, an increase of 65 percent from a year earlier. Mississippi’s March 1 rice stocks of 3.6 million cwt were 62 percent larger than a year earlier. In Missouri, March 1 rice stocks are estimated at 4.5 million cwt, 36 percent larger than a year ago. At 7.4 million cwt, rice stocks in Texas on March 1 were 1 percent below a year earlier.

U.S. ending stocks of all rice in 2014/15 are projected at 42.4 million cwt, up1.5 million cwt from the previous forecast and 33 percent larger than a year earlier. These are the largest ending stocks since 2010/11. The stocks-to-use ratio is estimated at 18.1 percent, up from 14.6 percent in 2013/14.

By class, the 2014/15 U.S. long-grain carryout is projected at 27.5 million cwt, up 0.5 million cwt from last month’s forecast and 70 percent larger than a year earlier. Long-grain ending stocks are the highest since 2010/11. The long-grain stocks-to-use ratio is estimated at 16.1 percent, up from 10.3 percent in 2013/14.

The medium- and short-grain carryout is projected at 12.5 million cwt, up 1.0 million cwt from last month’s forecast but 6 percent smaller than a year earlier. The medium- and short-grain stocks-to-use ratio is estimated at 19.8 percent, down from 22.0 percent in 2013/14.

U.S. 2014/15 Season-Average Farm Price Forecasts Lowered for Long-Grain Rice

The 2014/15 SAFP range for U.S. long-grain rice is projected at $12.10-$12.50 per cwt, down 10 cents on the low end and down 30 cents on the high end from last month’s forecast. The midpoint of the 2014/15 long-grain SAFP of $12.30 per cwt is 20 cents below last month’s midpoint and well below the 2013/14 SAFP of $15.40 per cwt.

This is the lowest long-grain SAFP since 2010/11. The downward revision was based on monthly reported cash prices and marketings through February and expectations regarding prices and marketings the remainder of the market year. The expected price decline in U.S. long-grain rough-rice in 2014/15 is primarily based on larger U.S. supplies, weaker prices for other agricultural commodities, lower global trading prices, and a stronger U.S. dollar.

The combined medium- and short-grain 2014/15 U.S. season-average farm price (SAFP) range is projected at $18.40-$18.80 per cwt, up 30 cents on the low end but down 10 cents on the high end of last month’s range. The midpoint of the 2014/15 medium- and short-grain SAFP–$18.60 per cwt–is up 10 cents from the previous month’s mid-point but 60 cents below the 2013/14 SAFP of $19.20 per cwt. The upward revision was largely driven by higher California prices in February and expectations regarding prices and marketings the remainder of the market year.

By region, the California 2014/15 medium- and short-grain SAFP is forecast at $20.20-$20.60 per cwt, up 40 cents on the low end but down 20 cents on the high end of last month’s forecast, with the midpoint of $20.40 per cwt 30 cents below $20.70 a year earlier. In 2014/15, California growers are facing greater competition from Southern medium-grain, which is priced well below rice from California.

For the Other States, the 2014/15 medium- and short-grain SAFP is projected at $14.90- $15.30 per cwt, a tightening of 10 cents on both the high- and low-end from last month. The mid-point of $15.10 is unchanged from last month but is below $15.70 a year earlier.

In 2014/15, Southern medium- and short-grain area expanded 110 percent from 2013/14, largely a response to a 24-percent reduction in California plantings.

The 2014/15 all-rice U.S. SAFP was lowered 20 cents on the high end to $14.00-$14.40 per cwt due to the lower SAFP forecasts for long-grain rice. The midpoint is 10 cents below last month’s forecast and well below the $16.30 reported for 2013/14.

In late March, NASS reported a February U.S. long-grain rough-rice cash price of $11.80 per cwt, down 70 cents from January and the lowest since July 2011. Since the start of the 2014/15 market year in August, long-grain cash prices have dropped $2.50 per cwt. Virtually all U.S. long-grain rice is grown in the South. For U.S. combined medium- and short-grain rice, the February NASS price was reported at $17.80 per cwt, down $1.20 from the January price.

By region, the California February medium- and short-grain rough-rice price was estimated at $21.80 per cwt, up 80 cents from a month earlier but down 10 cents from the start of the California market year in October. The February 2015 Southern medium- and short-grain rough-rice price is estimated at $14.90 per cwt, down 20 cents from January and 70 cents below the start of the Southern medium- and short-grain market year in August.

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