Arkansas Rice: Another Slow Start?

    Photo: Clay Gibson, University of Arkansas

    I don’t that anyone has sounded particularly excited about getting started planting this year, but here we are.  Officially as of last Monday, Arkansas had 1% of rice acres planted.  The first couple days of the week saw some additional rice planted, but corn and early soybeans were going in as well.

    The coming week doesn’t look too promising either at the moment, with more rain forecast for Monday and Tuesday.  Aside from planting, there’s still a fair amount of field work to be done around the state to prepare, and some areas still haven’t dodged a rain this year to get in the field at all.  The extended forecast does look to hopefully open up after Tuesday’s rain, so fingers crossed for that.

    Thoughts on Prospective Plantings Report

    For Arkansas, estimates came in line with expectations at 1.91 million acres total, with 1.080 million long-grain and 110,000 medium-grain.  As stated in last week’s update, it’s the medium-grain number that’s likely to see a northward shift from these estimates.  Will that correspond with a reduction in long-grain acres, most likely.

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    This projection does set us up to have the lowest back-to-back acreage years since 2011-2012.  The last time we had acres this low in an even-numbered year?  The early 90s, that’s when.

    One of the major items to consider is that the one constant through this past fall and into this spring, is change.  Things have changed since this survey was conducted.  Fertilizer and fuel prices have increased, and commodity prices have shuffled.  The reality at the moment is that even with higher fuel and fertilizer prices, corn price improvement means it pencils out very well.

    With where prices stand this morning (4/1), corn at 190 bu/ac has a higher return than soybean at 55 bu/ac. If you have fertilizer booked at lower prices, corn has a noticeable advantage, and 190 bu/ac hybrid rice pulls close to soybean.

    Ultimately, the variability for where each operation sits in terms of input prices and yield expectations are huge.  There’s no single bit of guidance anyone can give in terms of cropping plan.  Make the best plan you can for your operation, but do so with the idea that things will continue to change, we just don’t know how.




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