Rice Planting Estimates Close To Initial Guesses

USDA issued its Prospective Plantings report on Friday (March 29). The survey for the report was taken during the first two weeks of March. New crop rice futures have moved higher since then. New crop soybean futures have traded lower since early March on ideas some corn acres may be switching to soybeans.

Ahead of today’s report, the average of private estimates for total U.S. rice acreage was 2,801 million, down from 2.946 million in 2018. The range of guesses was from 2.58 to 3.0 million acres.

Results of the survey were very close to the average pre-report guess at 2.87 million – a decline of 76,000 acres from last year. Louisiana and Arkansas are both expected to decrease rice plantings by 40,000 acres.

By class, Arkansas is expected to reduce long-grain acreage by 50,000 acres. Again, these numbers are based on NASS surveys taken in the first two weeks of March. Since then both the weather and prices have improved with new crop September futures trading up to $11.20/cwt just a week ago. In total, U.S. long-grain acres are projected to drop 47,000 acres in 2019.

Click table to enlarge.

Recall in February that USDA had long-grain acres falling 300,000 to 1.9 million in its Ag Outlook Forum Grain Outlook. The complexion of the rice market has turned a bit more positive, while soybean futures have drifted lower and new crop soybean basis has remained weak. The price competitiveness of soybeans is very much a factor in rice planting decisions this year.

Arkansas has increased medium-grain acres the last two years. The trend is expected to continue for a third year in 2019. Medium-grain acres are projected to be up 10,000 to a total of 200,000 acres. This would be the first time since 2015 that medium-grain acres have hit 200,000 acres. Total U.S. medium-grain acres are expected to drop 29,000 acres with notable reductions in Louisiana and California.

The first 2019/20 supply/demand projections will be released in the May 10 WASDE report. These projections will incorporate the 2019 planting intentions from today’s NASS Prospective Plantings report. NASS will provide an update on U.S. and state acres on June 28 in the annual Acreage report.

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