Rice Outlook: U.S. 2017/18 Plantings Indicated at 2.63M Acres

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In March, U.S. rice growers indicated U.S. 2017/18 rice plantings at 2.63 million acres, down 17 percent from a year earlier, with long grain accounting all of the indicated decline.

There were no supply side revisions this month to the U.S. 2016/17 rice balance sheet. On the use side, total exports were raised 3.0 million cwt to 113.0 million cwt, with rough rice accounting for all of the upward revision.

The higher export forecast reduced the 2016/17 ending stocks forecast to 49.1 million cwt, still the highest since 1986/87. Price ranges for both classes of rice were narrowed, but the midpoints are unchanged from last month’s forecasts.

Domestic Outlook

Rice Growers Indicate 2017/18 Plantings Down 17 Percent

In March, U.S. rice growers indicated 2017/18 plantings at 2.63 million acres, down almost 17 percent from a year earlier. The substantial decline is largely due to declining U.S. rice prices, expectations of a large carryout, and–in the Delta–higher expected returns for soybeans. Long-grain accounted for all of the indicated area decline.

At 1.91 million acres, U.S. long-grain plantings are 22 percent below a year earlier. Almost all long-grain rice is grown in the South. In contrast, combined medium- and short-grain rice area was indicated at 717,000 acres, up more than 1 percent from a year earlier.

The South accounted for nearly all of the indicated area increase. California indicated plantings of medium- and short grain rice, at 530,000 acres, are nearly unchanged from a year earlier. These planting intentions are based on surveys conducted during the first 2 weeks of March.

Actual plantings may differ from intended plantings. The first survey of actual plantings of the 2017/18 U.S. rice crop will be conducted in early June and released in the June 30 Acreage report.

U.S. rice plantings were indicated significantly lower in all reported States except California, where total plantings were almost unchanged from 2016/17.

In Arkansas, the largest rice growing State, growers intended to plant 1.2 million acres of rice in 2017/18, down 23 percent from 2015/16 plantings and the lowest since 2013/14. Long-grain accounts for all of the indicated decline in Arkansas’ 2017/18 rice area; medium-grain acreage was indicated to increase more than 7 percent to 145,000 acres.

Growers in Louisiana indicated 2017/18 rice plantings at 400,000 acres, down 8.5 percent from a year earlier and the lowest since 2007/08. Similar to Arkansas, long-grain accounted for all of intended area decline in Louisiana. At 375,000 acres, Louisiana’s 2017/18 intended long-grain area is 9 percent below a year earlier. Medium-grain plantings in Louisiana were indicated at 25,000 acres, up 1,000 acres from 2016/17.

Growers in Mississippi indicated the highest percentage drop in rice plantings. At 120,000 acres, intended rice plantings in Mississippi are 38.5 percent below 2015/16 plantings and the lowest since 1977/78. Mississippi grows almost exclusively long-grain rice.

In Missouri, growers indicated 2017/18 plantings at 206,000 acres, 13 percent below a year earlier, with long-grain accounting for nearly all the decline. Missouri produces mostly long-grain rice.

Texas growers indicated a 15-percent drop in area to 165,000 acres, with long-grain accounting for all of the indicated area reduction. Like Missouri, long-grain accounts for the bulk of the Texas rice crop.

In contrast to the South, growers in California indicated 2017/18 rice plantings at 530,000 acres, just 2,000 acres below a year earlier. At 480,000 acres, intended medium-grain plantings in California were 2 percent below 2016/17 plantings. Short-grain plantings in California were indicated at 50,000 acres, 19 percent higher than in 2016/17.

California has received extremely heavy rainfall since late 2016, with the 2017 winter one of the wettest on record. This has resulted in severe flooding, spillway damage, and levee failures. In addition, the California Department of Water Resources reported in early March that the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada range was 185 percent of its long-term average.

Any impacts of this year’s heavy rainfall, subsequent flooding, and above-normal snow melt on actual planted area are not known at this time.

Progress of 2017/18 U.S. Rice Crop Is Ahead of Normal

For the week ending April 9, planting of the 2017/18 U.S. rice crop was estimated to be 31 percent complete, almost unchanged from a year ago but 5 percentage points ahead of 2015/16. Earlier planting tends to support higher yields. Crop progress was most advanced in the Gulf Coast States.

In Louisiana, 76 percent of the 2017/18 crop was reported planted by April 9, up 11 or 12 percentage points from last year and the State’s 5-year average. Weather has been especially favorable to planting in southwest Louisiana, allowing planting to begin in that region much earlier than normal. In Texas, 53 percent of the 2017/18 crop was reported planted by April 9, down from 62 percent a year earlier but almost equal to the State’s 5-year average.

Planting was much less complete in the Delta. In Arkansas, 28 percent of the rice crop was reported planted by April 9, 2 percent behind a year earlier but 5 percent ahead of the normal planting pace. Missouri’s 2017/18 rice crop was reported 16 percent planted by April 9, up from 9 percent last year and the State’s 5-year average of 14 percent.

Mississippi’s 2017/18 rice plantings were reported 23 percent complete by April 9, unchanged from a year earlier but ahead of the State’s 5-year average of 19 percent. Planting has not yet begun in California. The bulk of California’s crop is typically planted in May.

Plant emergence was ahead of normal as well. For the week ending April 9, 13 percent of the U.S. 2017/18 rice crop had emerged, ahead of 11 percent a year ago and the U.S. 5-year average of 9 percent.

On the Gulf Coast, 54 percent of Louisiana’s 2017/18 crop had emerged by April 9, ahead of 45 percent a year ago and well ahead of the State’s 5-year average of 31 percent. The Texas 2017/18 rice crop was reported 34 percent emerged by April 9, behind 41 percent a year ago but ahead of the State’s 5-year average of 26 percent.

Crop development was much less advanced in the Delta. In Arkansas, 6 percent of the crop had emerged by April 9, slightly ahead of both last year and a year earlier. Mississippi’s 2017/18 rice crop was reported 5 percent emerged by April 9, also slightly ahead of last year and a year earlier.

U.S. 2016/17 Rice Supplies Remain Projected at a Near-Record 294.1 Million Cwt

There were no supply side revisions this month to the 2016/17 U.S. rice balance sheet Total U.S. supplies of rice remain forecast at 294.1 million cwt, 11 percent above a year earlier and the second highest on record.

The increase in U.S. rice supplies in 2016/17 is the result of a bumper crop more than offsetting a slightly smaller carryin and weaker imports. By class, long-grain supplies remain projected at 209.7 million cwt, 16 percent larger than a year earlier.

Total supplies of medium- and short-grain rice remain forecast at 81.6 million cwt, about 1 percent below a year earlier, the result of a smaller crop.

Total rice production in 2016/17 remains estimated at 224.1 million cwt, 16 percent above a year earlier and the largest since the 2010/11 record of 244.3 million cwt. The bumper 2016/17 crop is the result of a 20 percent increase in plantings to 3.15 million acres.

In contrast, the average yield of 7,237 pounds per acre was 235 pounds below a year earlier and the lowest U.S. average yield since 2011/12. The 2016/17 U.S. long-grain crop remains estimated at 166.5 million cwt, 25 percent larger than a year earlier and the largest since the 2010/11 record.

U.S. 2016/17 medium- and short-grain production remains estimated at 57.7 million cwt, 3.5 percent below a year earlier.

Beginning stocks of all rice remain estimated at 46.5 million cwt, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Long-grain beginning stocks remain estimated at 22.7 million cwt, 14 percent below a year earlier. Medium- and short-grain beginning stocks remain estimated at 20.9 million cwt, up 4 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 1987/88.

Total imports remain forecast at 23.5 million cwt, down nearly 3 percent from a year earlier and the second consecutive year of decline. The expected decline in 2016/17 is based on much larger U.S. supplies, especially of brokens.

Through February 2017, U.S. imports of rice were reported at 417,287 tons (product-weight basis), virtually unchanged from a year earlier. Long-grain imports remain forecast at 20.5 million cwt, down 2 percent from a year earlier. Medium- and short-grain imports remain forecast at 3.0 million cwt, down 8 percent from a year earlier.

Based on data from the March Rice Stocks, U.S. March 1, 2017 stocks of rice (combined rough- and milled- stocks on a rough basis) are estimated at 116.5 million cwt, down 1 percent from a year earlier and well below industry and Government expectations.

The lower-than-expected March 1 U.S. stock level was largely due to strong U.S. exports from December 2016 to February 2017. The March 1 long-grain stocks inventory is estimated at 75.4 million cwt, up 8 percent from a year earlier, mostly due to the bumper crop.

In contrast, U.S. stocks of medium- and short-grain rice on March 1 are estimated at 37.4 million cwt, a reduction of 16 percent from a year earlier, with the bulk of the decline in the South. In 2016/17, the Southern medium- and short-grain crop declined more than 50 percent from a year earlier. Stocks of brokens, not classified by class, are estimated at 3.6 million cwt, up 26 percent from a year earlier.

Arkansas and California account for all of the year-to-year decline in March 1 rice stocks. These two States produce the bulk of U.S. medium- and short-grain rice. Rice stocks in Arkansas on March 1 are estimated at 58.3 million cwt, down 8 percent from a year earlier. About half of all U.S. rice stocks are in Arkansas. California’s March 1 rice stocks are estimated at 31.3 million cwt, down 7 percent from a year earlier. Stocks were estimated higher than a year earlier in the remaining reported States.

Louisiana’s March 1 rice stocks are estimated at 8.2 million cwt, up 13 percent from a year earlier. Mississippi’s March 1 rice stocks of 4.2 million cwt were up 41 percent from a year ago. In Missouri, March 1 rice stocks are estimated at 5.1 million cwt, 23 percent above March 1, 2016. Texas rice stocks of 7.7 million cwt were up 39 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. 2016/17 Export Forecast Raised 3.0 Million Cwt to 113.0 Million Cwt

The 2016/17 total U.S. rice use forecast was raised 3.0 million cwt–a result of a higher export forecast–to 245.0 million cwt, 12 percent above a year earlier and the second highest on record. Long-grain total use is forecast at 180.0 million cwt, up 2.0 million from the previous forecast and 2 percent above a year earlier.

Medium- and short-grain total use is forecast at 65.0 million cwt, up 1.0 million cwt from the previous forecast and 6 percent larger than a year earlier.

U.S. total domestic and residual use remains forecast at 132.0 million cwt, 19 percent above a year earlier. Long-grain domestic and residual use remains forecast at 102.0 million cwt, 25 percent above a year earlier.

Much of the expected increase in long-grain domestic and residual use is based on larger post-harvest losses associated with a bumper crop. Medium- and short-grain domestic and residual use remains forecast at 30.0 million cwt, nearly unchanged from a year earlier.

Total U.S. rice exports in 2016/17 are forecast at 113.0 million cwt, up 3.0 million cwt from the previous forecast and 5 percent larger than a year earlier. The upward revision in U.S. exports was based on U.S. Census monthly trade data through February, shipment and sales data through March 30 reported in the weekly U.S. Export Sales, and expectations regarding shipments the remainder of the market year.

The year-to-year increase in U.S. exports is largely based on larger U.S. supplies and more competitive prices. Since September 2016, shipments of rice reported by the U.S. Census Bureau have been well ahead of a year earlier each month. U.S. monthly exports were particularly strong in September, October, January, and February.

By class, the U.S. long-grain 2016/17 export forecast was raised 2.0 million cwt to 78.0 million cwt, up 2 percent from a year earlier. Through March 30, U.S. exports of long-grain rice were well ahead of a year earlier to Mexico, Central America, and South America, with rough rice accounting for the bulk of these shipments. U.S. long-grain exports were also ahead of a year earlier to the Caribbean, with milled rice accounting for virtually all of these sales.

U.S. medium- and short-grain exports are forecast at 35.0 million cwt, up 1.0 million cwt from the previous forecast and 12 percent higher than a year earlier. These are the highest medium- and short-grain U.S. exports since 1980/81 when South Korea imported more than 1 million tons.

This month’s upward revision in medium- and short-grain exports is largely based on recent sales to Libya and Turkey. North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and Northeast Asia account for much of the expected increase in U.S. medium- and short-grain exports in 2016/17. These are the largest markets for U.S. medium- and short-grain exports.

By type, the U.S. 2016/17 milled rice export forecast (combined milled and brown rice exports on a rough basis) remain forecast at 67.0 million cwt, almost 4 percent below a year earlier. U.S. rough-rice exports are projected at a record 46.0 million cwt, up 3.0 million cwt from the previous forecast and 20 percent higher than year earlier.

The upward revision was partly based on stronger-than-expected recent sales to the Mediterranean. Latin America is the largest market for U.S. rough-rice exports, taking almost exclusively long-grain rice. Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela are the top rough-rice markets for the United States in the region. Colombia imports a smaller amount. North Africa and the Mediterranean import much smaller amounts of U.S. rough rice, primarily purchasing medium- and short-grain.

The U.S. 2016/17 ending stocks forecast was lowered 3.0 million cwt this month to 49.1 million cwt, up 6 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 1986/87. The downward revision was due to the larger export forecast. The all-rice stocks-to-use ratio is forecast at 20.1 percent, down from 21.2 percent a year earlier.

The long-grain ending stocks forecast was lowered 2.0 million cwt to 29.7 million cwt, up 31 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 2010/11. Medium- and short-grain ending stocks are projected at 16.6 million cwt, down 1.0 million from the previous forecast and 25 percent below a year earlier.

Season-Average Farm Prices for Both Classes of Rice Projected To Be Lower in 2016/17

The only revisions this month to the U.S. season-average farm prices for rice were a narrowing of the price range for all reported classes and regions. The midpoints are unchanged from last month. The U.S. all-rice 2016/17 season-average farm price (SAFP) is projected at $10.30-$10.70 per cwt, down from $12.20 in 2015/16.

The U.S. long-grain 2016/17 SAFP is projected at $9.60-$10.00 per cwt, down from $11.10 in 2015/16. Much larger U.S. supplies and weaker global prices are behind the expected decline in U.S. long-grain rough rice prices in 2016/17.

The California medium- and short-grain SAFP is forecast at $13.30-$13.90 per cwt, well below the 2015/16 SAFP of $18.10. The substantial decline is primarily due to much larger supplies.

The Southern medium- and short-grain 2016/17 SAFP is forecast at $9.80-$10.20 per cwt, down from $11.20 a year earlier. These are the lowest regional SAFPs for medium- and short-grain rice since USDA began reporting these prices in 2008/09. The U.S. medium- and short-grain SAFP is forecast at $12.20-$12.80 per cwt, well below $15.30 a year earlier and the lowest since 2006/07.

Last month, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported a February 2017 long-grain rough-rice price of $9.42 per cwt, down 25 cents from a month earlier and the lowest since USDA first reported monthly prices by class in August 2007.

The California medium- and short-grain February price of $13.40 was down 40 cents from January. The February Southern medium- and short-grain price was reported at $9.95, down 35 cents from January.

The U.S. medium- and short-grain rough rice price was reported at $11.90 per cwt in February, down $1.20 from January and the lowest since at least August 2007. The February all rice rough-rice price was reported at $9.81 per cwt, down 99 cents from January and the lowest since August 2006.

Full report.

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