Arkansas Rice: Slow Progress Is Still Progress

    With only a few scattered acres planted in the latter part of March, we certainly haven’t gotten off to a tremendous start.  Some of that could begin to change now.  Planting has begun again in a few spots over the past couple of days with many more looking to get rolling as we head into the weekend.  Conditions look warm and dry until the middle of next week where small rain chances are lurking.

    Still, there are many acres that have field preparation left to go before drills can run, so there is greater expectation of a lot of dust flying to get things ready before a bigger planting push will happen.  Hopefully this is the start of more frequent windows of fieldwork opportunity.

    Thoughts on Prospective Plantings Report

    There’s a lot to unpack in the USDA Prospective Plantings report released on 3/31 (more details in the Market Update below).  Arkansas is looking at a 14% drop to 1.251 million acres (compared to 1.461 million planted in 2020).  California acreage projections continue to fall based on their water situation and seems like a “how low can you go” situation.

    It’s somewhat surprising to see Missouri and Texas acres flat from 2020 to 2021.  Then Mississippi is expected to go much lower than 2020 and some think the report may still be too high.

    For Arkansas, the acreage estimate is in line with expectations for this year.  However, the month of April will have a lot to say about whether we’re able to get to that 1.251 million acres.  Favorable planting conditions in April would likely allow us to get there, but if weather slows planting progress it will be easy to see more acres shift to soybean.

    Once we hit May, the thought of yield decline in rice, pushing rice harvest later into the fall, and soybean prices will play roles in final acreage decisions.

    Outlook for 2021 production

    Looking ahead, the 2021 planted acreage used in the May WASDE will be based on the March Prospective Plantings.  As a result, we may see a slightly larger 2021 production forecast for long-grain than shown in USDA’s February Ag Outlook.  See table below.

    Rice News on AgFax

    Adjusted for March 31 planting intentions, long-grain harvested acres could be 76,000 higher than the February Outlook.  Using USDA’s projected US average yield of 7,450 pounds would equate to a crop size of 151.7 million hundredweight—5.7 million larger.  This is still well below 2020’s 170.9 million cwt. crop.

    However, USDA looks for much lower long-grain demand in 2021/22 with expectations for total use to slip from 190 million cwt. this year to 178 million in 21/22.  The first official 21/22 balance sheets from USDA will be released May 12.

    Prospective Plantings. Click Image to Enlarge

    Crop Progress. Click Image to Enlarge

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