The waters are still high in Mississippi from storms that swept across the state on Sunday. While the storm front produced tornadoes that caused severe damage in south Mississippi and north Louisiana, many producers in Cleveland and the surrounding rice country had minor farm damage from the strong winds.
“We had some wind damage in Cleveland, but thankfully nothing major on our operation,” said Austin Davis from Shaw. “We’ve been 12 hours shy of getting to plant two separate times this year, but just as we close in and it gets dry enough, another two inches of rain would fall on us. Last weekend was no exception.”
Nat McKnight, also from Cleveland, is hoping he and his team can get back in the fields this weekend and plant their first acre of the year. “We haven’t planted anything on our operation yet and for the state as a whole, I would estimate that only 3-5 percent has been planted.”
Farther southeast in Avon, Marvin Cochran is draining water off the fields. “Most people had one to two-and-a-half inches of rain this weekend depending on the location. That sums up this years’ planting progress so far: depends on where you are. Some producers have started planting, some have their fields prepped, and some haven’t been able to do anything.”
Producers like Davis will be able to hit the ground running when drier weather hits the state. He said, “We were lucky to be able to get 97 percent of our field prep done last fall, so as soon as the weather cooperates, all of our rice ground is ready to go, and we can start planting.”
Despite the slow start, rice farmers remain optimistic about this year’s crop. “I think Mississippi rice acreage will be up like they’re projecting this year,” said Cochran.
McKnight agreed: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we planted between 150 and 170,000 acres this year. Depending on the weather, of course. That’s the amazing thing about us farmers, we always look for a bright spot.”