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2014 Louisiana rice crop better than expected

News Release Distributed 10/03/14

CROWLEY, La. – The 2014 Louisiana rice crop is better than we expected “but not as good as last year,” said Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist.

The crop had its hurdles with a cool spring and a wet, muddy harvest. But Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station said the summer nights were not excessively hot, and that probably resulted in good yields and outstanding grain quality.

Linscombe said the 2013 crop year had perfect weather throughout the growing season, but the 2014 crop was challenged by weather at the start with a cool, wet spring, and a wet, muddy harvest. “In spite of that, our 2014 is going to be a good crop,” he said.

Disease was not bad this year, even with heavy rainfall. The Rice Research Station recorded 33.6 inches of rain between May and August, compared to 13.2 inches for the same time period last year.

Linscombe said a large amount of south Louisiana acreage will be grown for a second crop, even though much of it was cut after the recommended Aug. 15 cutoff. “Some of the ratoon looks extremely good,” he said.

Linscombe said more medium-grain rice was planted this year, in the range of 60,000-65,000 acres, because of the 150,000-acre reduction in California where drought resulted in a water shortage.

Linscombe said the usual decline in yields toward the late part of the harvest in south Louisiana was not as striking as usual. “The rice we were cutting in late August and early September was still yielding well. In the first week of September, we still had farmers cutting more than 60 barrels with good quality,” he said.

Keith Collins, LSU AgCenter county agent in Richland Parish, said he first thought this year’s crop in north Louisiana would be average. But as the harvest progressed, he has changed his mind.

“I think we’re going to have an above-average crop,” he said, adding that yields could be as good as last year’s record crop.

He said many varieties are yielding just under 200 bushels with few reports of low quality milling.

But, he said, getting the crop out of the fields has been difficult with muddy conditions.

Keith Fontenot, LSU AgCenter county agent in Evangeline Parish, said the crop in his area has been good.

“We have had some producers who exceeded last year’s crop,” he said.

But, he said, most fields are yielding slightly less than last year by as much as four to five barrels (14-18 bushels).

He said rutted fields make it difficult to judge how well a second crop is faring. He estimated that a third of the acreage in Evangeline Parish will have a second crop.

Fontenot said farmers are facing a stagnant market with low prices and not much rice being bought. “There’s no movement of rice right now,” he said.

Andrew Granger, LSU AgCenter county agent in Vermilion Parish, said the crop there resulted in above-average yields, but not quite as good as last year. But, he said, the wet harvest conditions have reduced the second crop for many farmers.

He estimated a ratoon crop will be grown on 25 percent of the parish’s 51,000 acres, compared to 40-50 percent in most years.

Rice prices are becoming an issue, making it difficult for some farmers to get financing for next year’s crop, he said.

Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia and Jefferson Davis parishes, said the average in both parishes will be just under 50 barrels (180 bushels), with Acadia Parish having slightly better results. “I would say the yields are above average,” he said.

The harvest was two to three weeks later than usual, he said, and farmers had to cope with muddy conditions. He said milling yields were good, and the crop benefitted from low disease and insect pressure.

“Some people had yields as good or better than last year,” Courville said. “With the weather we had, it really turned out to be a good year.”

Bruce Schultz

Last Updated: 10/3/2014 1:49:02 PM

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