Rice Market Update: What Will 2022 Bring?

    Rice being harvested in Prairie County, Arkansas. Photo: Fred Miller, University of Arkansas

    The market remains firm for U.S. long-grain as harvest winds down. Arkansas has 10 days or less, and the second crop in Louisiana is underway and moving along as expected, though some cooler weather may slow things down a bit. Rains earlier in the week along the gulf coast has paused the Texas ratoon crop harvest.

    Both the paddy market and milled market are looking steady, with no big shockers on the horizon. The huge sale to Iraq has hit the books and has both exports and sales surging ahead of last year’s numbers. Iraq has been spreading their business around to Asia and South America, so there is little expectation that any more business will materialize for the U.S. until Q1 of 2022 at the earliest.

    It will be important to maintain paddy exports to Mexico and other key destinations while filling domestic milled business.

    Prices in Texas are reported in the $14.50-$15.00/cwt range, while Louisiana is registering bids at $12.75/cwt. Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri are all somewhere between $13.25-$13.50/cwt based on location and quality. Mills seemed to be largely covered for the coming weeks, but there are steady offers in the spot market to provide liquidity in the current environment.

    With this year’s harvest complete in most places, focus is already turning to planting intentions for next year. Corn, beans, and other crops are commanding a premium over rice, and the increased cost of fertilizer and chemicals is weighing heavy on the planning process.

    Rice farmers are encouraged to book fertilizer early with the shortages that are already in the forecast, but if prices don’t adjust, other crops with higher profit margins will be attractive. Prices of urea have reached $800-$1,000 per ton in Western Hemisphere countries. Planting season is well underway in the Mercosur countries. Government subsidies of fertilizer for farmers in Southeast Asia are being reported.

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    In Asia, pricing has remained steady for several weeks now. India is reported at $360 pmt, and has been within a $5pmt range for close to four weeks. The same can be said for Thailand and Vietnam, each registering at $389 pmt and $425 pmt this week, respectively.

    Loadings in India continue to defy gravity and the Covid clog, with the majority this week headed for West Africa. China has also been high on the list for India, as India is now China’s top supplier of rice because of the seemingly insatiable appetite for animal feed.

    The weekly USDA Export Sales report shows net sales of 25,200 MT–a marketing-year low—which is down 69% from the previous week and 62% from the prior 4-week average.

    Increases were primarily for Haiti (15,300 MT, including decreases of 100 MT), Mexico (4,100 MT), Canada (3,200 MT), Saudi Arabia (1,500 MT), and Guatemala (300 MT). Exports of 62,500 MT were down 8% from the previous week, but up 25% from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were primarily to Mexico (38,300 MT), Costa Rica (10,200 MT), Haiti (7,200 MT), Canada (3,700 MT), and Saudi Arabia (1,900 MT).

    In the futures market, traders are rolling their November contracts to January and March. New demand is illusive for the milled market, and farmers will be illusive as well in the coming month as the holidays approach, and hunting season arrives. Average daily volume is 1,430, which is an 8.13% increase from last week, while open interest was 7,864, a drop of 10%.

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