Mississippi rice production expected to be up from 2017, thanks to more acres

Read Kelly, MSU entomology student
Read Kelly, a Mississippi State University graduate student, discusses his project studying rice water weevil pressure in row rice. He made the presentation during MSU’s recent Rice Field Day at the Delta Research and Extension Center at Stoneville — photo by Vicky Boyd

Mississippi growers will produce about 20 percent more rice this year, thanks in part to additional acres planted over 2017’s total.

Larry Falconer, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says early forecasts predict national yields near last year’s 7,400 pounds per acre.

“National acreage is up about 20 percent. In Mississippi, the increase is slightly more at 23 percent,” Falconer says. “It helped that, at planting time, prices were slightly better than the previous year.”

The midpoint of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture marketing year average price projection for the 2018 crop is $11 per hundredweight, just below last year’s average of $11.40, but Falconer considers that optimistic.

“Domestic use is expected to be up about 6 percent, but we depend on exports to carry the ball for rice, and exports are projected to be up about 8 percent from last year,” he says. “That still leaves us with a projected stocks-to-use ratio for 2018-2019 that would imply the lower end of the USDA projected range, $10.50 cwt, is more likely.”

Preliminary yields look good

All 150,000 acres of the state’s rice grows in the Mississippi Delta. Falconer and MSU Extension rice and soil fertility agronomist Bobby Golden are based at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville to serve the region’s growers.

“Preliminary yields on the early rice crop are looking good,” Golden says. “Grass control has been the biggest issue this year. Herbicides were not as effective in the 2018 growing conditions as we would have liked.”

Golden says growers have accepted many of the agronomic recommendations from MSU researchers. A recent field day was well attended as growers heard from graduate students, who will be the next generation of scientists serving the state’s agricultural industry.

Growers promote their crop with activities such as the Rice Tasting Luncheon, held annually at Delta State University. Delta Rice Promotions will host the event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 14, at Walter Sillers Coliseum in Cleveland. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased from Bolivar County’s Extension office by calling 662-843-8371. Tickets will also be on sale at the door.

Mississippi State University contributed this article.

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