Rice acreage increases, prices up from year ago
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- After taking a break from rice last year, Mississippi producers who typically grow the crop have returned to it this year.
Hunter Bowman, Mississippi State University Extension Service rice specialist, said growers in the state have planted 119,000 acres of rice. That’s well over the 84,500 acres planted in 2022.
“Last year, a lot of our growers switched to soybeans because market prices for soybeans were better and prices for the fertilizer used in rice was high,” Bowman said. “This year, fertilizer prices have leveled off. They aren’t low, but they’re not as high. Last year was a good year for rice, and that pulled a lot of growers back in this year.”
The crop is 98% planted with a few fields awaiting replant. Dry, crusted soils prevented some rice from emerging, while some other fields were damaged from herbicide drift, Bowman said.
According to the May 21 Crop Progress and Condition report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, planting is well ahead of the five-year average of 86%. The report also estimates 91% of the crop is in good or fair condition, 6% is excellent, and just 3% is poor.
“We’re over the hard part in most of our rice fields,” Bowman said on May 23. “A good portion of our fields will be flooded next week and get their first dose of nitrogen fertilizer.”
Then, producers begin to scout for insects, which Bowman expects to be at least a nuisance.
“There is no way to know for sure what issues we’ll face with insects and disease yet, but we’ll probably have some insect issues because of the mild winter we had. It just didn’t get cold enough to lower our insect numbers that much,” said Bowman, who is also a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station based at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
Each year, Extension entomologists scout the roadsides and tree lines near crops to get an idea of what insects might be a problem.
“I know our entomologists have been doing surveys on the roadsides around fields and in the tree lines. From what has been relayed to me, it is possible that rice stinkbug will be an issue for us this year,” Bowman said.
Will Maples, MSU Extension agricultural economist, said the current outlook for prices is positive, with a projected national average farm price of $15 per hundredweight for long-grain rice. That’s down from $16.90 per hundredweight in 2022.
“While prices are expected to be lower than last year, it’s still higher than two years ago,” Maples said.
This year’s lower prices are a result of a combination of factors.
“The main driver for this price decrease is larger supplies, with production expected to be up 20% due to more planted acreage,” Maples said. “High input costs limited rice acreage last year, but as these costs have eased down slowly, more acreage is expected in 2023.
“Demand for rice is expected to increase in 2023, with domestic use and exports up. However, continued competition from South American countries will limit U.S. long-grain rice export opportunities.”