LAKE VILLAGE, ARK.
U.S. rice used to be known as the best quality rice in the world. Today, we are losing that reputation. If we are going to keep this industry alive, we’ve got to address the quality issue.
In my experience, when buyers are grading rice, they are looking for low chalk, good milling yield and uniformity in grain size. Farmers can provide the buyers what they want by planting varieties that produce this type of high-quality rice. We’re always looking for good field yields, but quality is a big player in our decision of what variety we are going to plant.
IDENTITY PRESERVE BY VARIETY
Also, there usually is a financial incentive involved for farmers who are producing high-quality rice. By identity preserving (IP) our rice by variety, we are capturing more money per bushel on the milling premium, and buyers are willing to give us a better basis. This year, we got a narrow basis for the rice we had in bins because it was tested early and met the low levels of chalk that one of the export markets was looking for. That amounted to about 25 cents per bushel better than the other rice market was trading at the time.
I would like to see buyers come to growers early in the year and make arrangements through our brokers to pay us more or give us a better basis if we grow a specific variety of rice for them. But, you can’t ask the broker to do it all. Quality has to begin at the farm level. Pick varieties that show good milling characteristics and good quality and take care of them with the proper practices throughout the growing season to help ensure a quality crop. Also, take care of the rice once it is in the bin.
I guarantee you that Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and other countries would be happy to take our markets. As U.S. rice farmers, we have to try to maintain them ourselves before we lose them completely. It costs a little extra to do all of the things I have mentioned, but I think we will see a return on our money if we can provide high-quality rice that the markets are willing to pay for.
“Pick varieties that show good milling characteristics and good quality and take care of them with the proper practices throughout the growing season to help ensure a quality crop.”
– Joe Mencer
FROM SEED TO SHIPPING
• Buyers want low chalk, good milling yield, uniform grain size.
• Quality is a big player when we are choosing a variety.
• By identity preserving our rice by variety, we are capturing the milling premium and a better basis.