Dr. Jarrod Hardke, Dr. Gus Lorenz, Aaron Cato, & Scott Stiles
August 18, 2017 No. 2017-22 www.uaex.edu/rice
“I hear the train a comin’, it’s rolling round the bend…” Harvest is finally gaining some traction – both literally and figuratively. Where soil conditions are drier in the central area of the state more early yields are starting to come in. In the southeast where progress should be greater than it is, growers are going with tracks on machines to get rolling.
Overall yield reports are good to very good so far. There have been very few “home runs” reported, but many yields in the 180-200 dry bushel range including varieties and hybrids. This paints a good picture for potential yields going forward as there has been little in the way of disappointing yields mentioned.
Recent years have shown us that we can have considerable yield variability within the season so early yields provide no guarantees. There is also the difference between conditions faced during the season for rice in the southern half of the state versus the northern half of the state. In many ways the north has struggled more than the south, so until we see some early yields there we will continue to be in the dark.
Initial Data from Planting Date Studies
The first two planting dates have been harvested at the Rice Research & Extension Center near Stuttgart (Table 1). This is preliminary data and is subject to change before final reporting. Results are not intended to be a strict predictor of in-field performance, but rather a reflection of relative differences in cultivar performance at various planting dates. In theory, these grain yields are attainable if similar levels of management could be achieved at a field scale.
Table 1. Preliminary data for planting date studies at RREC, Stuttgart, 2017.
Rice Stink Bug Termination
A large number of fields have entered the late stages of grain fill, with many already on their way to being drained. Similar to the last few years, we are finding both rice stink bug adults and nymphs totaling 1 per sweep or more in these fields that have already reached hard dough on most panicles.
Rice stink bug can continue to cause damage in fields within the early stages of hard dough development, and it is important that we stick to our threshold of 10 adults and nymphs per 10 sweeps at these stages. Research from last year indicated that appreciable damage is no longer possible when panicles are visually greater than 60-80% hard dough (straw colored) (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Amount of damage caused by infestation of rice stink bug, with no profit loss at 80% hard dough and above.
When stink bugs were introduced to panicles that visually resembled the left and center picture in Fig. 2 (greater than 60% straw coloration), no appreciable level of injury was caused. Once 75% of the panicles are past this stage, rice stink bug applications can be terminated.
Fig. 2. Rice panicles at different maturity levels described by percent straw color:
(L) 100%, (C) 67%, and (R) 33%.
Fig. 3. False smut showing up on later rice with conducive weather conditions.
Fig. 4. Rice stink bug nymphs hatching out.
Fig. 5. A fuzzy picture of some rice kernels sprouting on the panicle in the field in SE AR.
Fig. 6. Draining of rice fields continues to pick up the pace.
Rice Market Update
Compared to the other major crops, rough rice futures look relatively unscathed in the aftermath of the August 10 USDA reports. Corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton have all lost 4 to 7% over the past week. As for rice, the September contract will finish the week lower, but only about 1.5% below where it traded prior to the August WASDE. Friday’s settlement for September contract was $12.145/cwt.
Fig. 7. CBOT September Rough Rice Futures.
To recap the USDA’s August adjustments to the U.S. long-grain balance sheet, production was trimmed 4 million hundredweight (mcwt.) to 132.4 million. This is a significant 34.1 mcwt. drop from 166.5 million last year. A specific long-grain yield estimate was not provided in the August supply/demand tables. Assuming USDA is using the estimates from the June NASS Acreage report, it would appear the current U.S. long-grain yield estimate is roughly 7,277 pounds per acre or 161.7 bushels. This yield is right in line with the 5-year average for long-grain.
Further adjustments to the new crop long-grain balance sheet included a 2 mcwt. reduction in domestic use to 90 million. Exports were unchanged at 77 million. Ending stocks were cut by 2.2 million to 17.7 million hundredweight, from 19.9 million last month and 31.3 million last year. The mid-point of the 2017/18 producer price range was increased by 13 cents to $5.40 per bushel. World ending stocks were near unchanged from last month at 122.92 million metric tons.
In Monday’s Crop Progress report USDA indicated rice harvest was ongoing in a few states and is running slightly ahead of the five-year average. Harvest is most active in Louisiana and Texas with variable yields and quality being reported in Louisiana and good yields and quality reported in Texas. Harvest progress in both Louisiana and Texas is further along than the 5-year average pace for the week ending August 13.
Overall, the August USDA report was fundamentally supportive for rice prices with lower new crop production and ending stocks. Why then has the rice market turned lower? One reason may be the exit of “long” or buy-side speculators from the grain complex. Corn, soybeans and wheat did not get the bullish numbers from USDA that the trade anticipated and have sold off heavily.
Rice futures would benefit if corn and soybean futures could finally attract some buying interest. Weather forecasts will be closely watched this month. The updated U.S. Drought Monitor shows 15% of U.S. corn acres and 16% of soybean acres are in some degree of drought.
Traders are anxiously awaiting the Pro Farmer Crop Tour which will begin Monday (Aug. 21) and run through the 24th with final results to be released on Friday, August 25th. Without question, the trade is very anxious to see if the tour confirms or denies USDA’s August yield estimates. Comments from the Pro Farmer tour will be the primary focus of the corn and soybean markets next week. Bullish findings could also provide a lift for rice.
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We sincerely appreciate the support for this publication provided by the rice farmers of Arkansas and administered by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.
The authors greatly appreciate the feedback and contributions of all growers, county agents, consultants, and rice industry stakeholders.