Arkansas Rice: How Many Intended Acres?

Photo: Clay Gibson, University of Arkansas

There’s a lot going on in the world right now beyond rice, but here we are still trying to get a crop started before long. Hopefully the start and finish will be an easier trip than last year.

A year later and we’re still talking about the rain, seemingly non-stop since the fall of 2018. Some field work has been accomplished over the past few weeks, primarily isolated to higher fields near the highways and hillsides. Much of the rest of our rice-growing area hasn’t done much other than make some burndown herbicide applications. The current 7-day precipitation totals don’t look too kind either.

The long-range forecasts for March through May suggest above average temperatures over the period. However, above average rainfall is also in the mix for that period. Not exactly a comforting forecast, but all we need are windows to get things done.

We can still get our dry windows to get the crop in and their forecast be right at the same time. With those comments I’m hoping for an improvement on 2019 of course.

Just How Much Rice?

Acreage intentions are currently still in the process of being collected, and we’ll get some clarity on current intentions at the end of the month. For now, I’ll share where I believe we’re headed based on all the factors involved.

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Table 1 shows the harvested acreage for different states over the last several years. For many reasons 2020 should represent a year of increased acres in Arkansas. The record prevented planting in 2019 combined with price differences between rice and other crops points to a big number, if we can get it planted.

Given the current outlook for rice over other options, it’s not difficult to start seeing 1.5 million acres for AR as a baseline rather than the actual result. Given the window to get it in, we could certainly go higher. The majority of the AR increase will be in long-grain with medium-grain remaining relatively flat compared to 2019. With that I expect 1.3 million acres of long-grain and 200,000 acres of medium-grain rice.

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