The first forecast for the 2011-2012 U.S. rice crop pegs production at 211 million cwt, down 13 percent from a year earlier, according to Rice Outlook report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.  The smaller crop is the result of a 17-percent decline in planted area.  The field yield is projected at 7,033 pounds per acre, up nearly 5 percent from last year, but well below the 2007-2008 record.  Severe flooding along the Mississippi River has delayed progress of the 2011-2012 crop, especially in Arkansas and Missouri.  The full impact of the near-record flooding is unknown at this time.

Total U.S. rice supplies in 2011-2012 are projected at 284.6 million cwt, 4 percent below the year-earlier record.  A smaller crop is projected to more than offset a big increase in carryin and slightly larger imports.  Total use of U.S. rice in 2011-2012 is projected at 236 million cwt, down 2 percent from the year-earlier record.  Total domestic and residual use of all-rice is projected unchanged from last year's near-record 127 million cwt.  Total exports of U.S. rice in 2011-2012 are projected at 109 million cwt, 5 percent below the revised estimate for 2010-2011.  U.S. ending stocks are projected at 48.6 million cwt, down 7 million cwt from a year earlier, but still one of the largest since the mid-1980s.

Price forecasts for 2011-2012 vary by class.  For long-grain, the 2011-2012 season-average farm price (SAFP) is projected at $11.00-$12.00 per cwt, with the mid-point slightly above the revised $11.00-$11.30 for this year.  In contrast, the combined medium- and short-grain 2011-2012 U.S. SAFP is projected at $15.00-$16.00 per cwt, well below a revised 2010-2011 SAFP range of $16.85-$17.15.  Global prices for both classes of rice are expected to decline in 2011-2012, largely due to record total global supplies.

This month, USDA revised its annual U.S. average milling rates from 2000-2001 through 2010-2011 based on data supplied by the USA Rice Federation.  The 2011-2012 milling rate is projected at 70.75 percent and is based on the 2007-2008-2009-2010 revised average milling rate.  The 2010-2011 milling rate was not used to estimate the 2011-2012 rate due to severe weather problems that lowered the milling rates that year.

Global rice production in 2011-2012 is forecast at a record 457.9 million tons, up 1 percent from 2010-2011.  The record crop is due to expanded plantings.  Of the top 10 rice producing countries (China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, Brazil, and Japan) all except Brazil and Japan are expected to harvest larger crops in 2011-2012, with record production projected for Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Global disappearance in 2011-2012 is projected to increase 2 percent to a record 458.7 million tons.  Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand account for most of the projected increase.  Global ending stocks are projected at 96.2 million tons, down 1 percent from 2010-2011.  Expected stock reductions for Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and others are partially offset by forecasts for increased ending stocks for China, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

Calendar year trade for 2012 is forecast at a record 32.2 million tons (milled basis), up nearly 4 percent from 2011.  Australia, Burma, India, Pakistan, the United States, and Vietnam are all expected to increase exports in 2012.  The Philippines is expected to boost imports by 1.2 million tons; while both Bangladesh and Indonesia are expected to import substantially less rice in 2012.

Trading prices for Thailand's high- and medium-quality grades of non-specialty rice have risen 1 percent from the first week of April, largely due to the appreciation of the Thai baht.  In Vietnam, export price quotes have strengthened over the past month due to higher farm-gate prices.  Large domestic supplies and competition from major Asian exporters continued to put downward pressure on U.S. long-grain milled prices over the past month, while prices for California medium-grain milled rice have remained strong.