What is in this article?:
- California producers struggled through late planting and rising production costs.
- Harvest in California, at 55 percent complete, is behind the five-year average of 87 percent.
- The largest challenge for the financial viability of California rice growers is controlling production costs.
Mississippi’s rice harvest conditions were “as good as they could possibly get,”says Nathan Buehring, Mississippi Extension rice specialist. “Of course, we were ready for good conditions after last year’s harvest. Last fall, it wouldn’t stop raining. This year, it hardly rained at all.”
Unfortunately, yields didn’t live up to expectations.
“We had a great looking crop but the yield didn’t keep pace. I think it just stayed too hot for too long. Milling quality was also harmed. The heat knocked our rice back. This year, we had a lot of blanks and low test weights.
“There was a week when the daytime highs were over 100 degrees and the nighttime temperatures were around 80 degrees. That can’t help but effect the crop. And it never really cooled down – 95 daytime temperatures with 75-degree days were common.”
Extreme temperatures really harmed rice planted in late April through mid-May.
“That rice probably made up only about 20 percent of the state’s crop. We had a dry spring and were able to get around 75 percent of the crop planted by the end of April. Some of the rice has field yields of less than 100 bushels. That wasn’t because the farmers neglected anything – it was just that hot.”
Buehring didn’t notice any varieties that were better able to handle the heat. “They were all hammered, across the board. We knew we had problems because there was a lot of straighthead and aborted pollination.”
The USDA has Mississippi’s yield average “pegged at about 145 bushels/6,500 pounds per acre. That’s going to be close to what we end up with, I think. I don’t think that average number will rise but it might go down.
“Some of our early-planted rice – late March through early April – cut really good yields. The heat wore down the late-planted rice a little bit more.”