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Arkansas Rice Update 9-8-17
Author: Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist

Rice LogoArkansas Rice Update

Dr. Jarrod Hardke & Scott Stiles

September 8, 2017  No. 2017-25      

Crop Progress

It’s not THAT the wind is blowing, it’s WHAT the wind is blowing.  Wind may lean rice, but wind carrying rain is really what gets it down.  All things considered, it’s surprising that more rice acres aren’t down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Estimates last week filed under “way too early guesses” were about 80,000 acres or 10% of rice acres remaining in the field may have been lodged.  At this time and after observing that more leaning acres haven’t gone down and lodging hasn’t been spreading, about 40,000 acres of 5% are probably lodged.  We can all agree that nobody likes downed rice, but it could have been much worse.

Many have gotten back to harvesting and overall most continue to be very happy with their yields.  It does sound as though south Arkansas will be happier than north Arkansas based on early estimates but we still have a long way to go on that.

Milling yields have been variable at times unfortunately.  The inconsistent weather pattern we’ve been in combined with rainfall has kept grain moisture elevated and rice in the field longer than normal.  This may have had an impact on overall head rice yields as a result.  However, it’s definitely better than last year and more recent numbers are showing continued improvement.


Harvestable Grain Contacted by Floodwater Cannot Enter Food Channel

Harvestable rice grain that has been submerged or has come into contact with floodwater in any way is considered to be “adulterated” and should not enter human food channels according to the FDA.  Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating “clean” crops.  Adulterated meaning contaminated or impure.

Our recommendations are the same – keep the flood affected crop separate from the clean crop.  Work out the details of where the grain is going so that it is kept separate and cannot enter human food channels.  We definitely want to avoid contaminating any more grain that what we already have.

I believe there are very few acres this is relevant for but it is worth noting.  Read here under Section III if you want to learn more:


Salting Downed Rice

While lodging from Hurricane Harvey has not been as bad as initially feared overall, there is still enough out there to hurt (Fig. 1).  With that, there have been numerous continued questions about salting rice that is lodged.

Fig. 1.  Lodged rice that has received an application of sodium chlorate (salt).

To repeat from previous weeks – salt (sodium chlorate) only affects the rice tissue it hits.  So, if you salt lodged rice then only the rice on top that contacts the salt will dry down and what’s underneath will remain green.  Fig. 2 shows that comparison where the desiccated rice on the right was salted and the rice on the left that’s green was underneath it.

In this particular field where the pictures were taken, there was very little lodging but this spot provides a good example of the effects of salting downed rice.  If there is a lot of lodging in the field, then you’ll end up with two completely different sets of grain in your hopper at harvest – half higher moisture and half lower moisture.  The milling results will probably be very interesting, and not in a good way.

Fig. 2.  Lodged rice with the rice on top exposed to salt (right) and the rice underneath still green (left).


Rice Market Update

U.S. Crop Progress:

In the latest weekly USDA Crop Progress report, the U.S. rice crop was 29% harvested compared to the 5-year average of 30% for the week ending September 3rd.  Arkansas was estimated at 18% harvested.  With dry weather conditions this week Monday’s updated Crop Progress may indicate Arkansas’ harvest is now closer to the historical average pace of 34% for the week ending September 10th.  Harvest is coming to a close in Louisiana and Texas with harvest now estimated to be over 90% complete.

Long-Grain Export Sales:

Export activity for the week ending August 31 was mixed.  Sales recovered for both rough and milled rice to the 2nd highest weekly totals for the marketing year.  Haiti was in for 22,250 metric tons of milled rice.  As expected, rice shipments were very low last week due to recent weather events and dipped to marketing year lows for both classes.

All ports in the Houston region are now open.  The USDA-AMS reported this week that some ports are open with draft restrictions still in place.  Comments from Union Pacific this week indicated that railroads have made significant progress to restore service.  Reroutes are in place around areas still flooded or sections that require extended time to repair.

By class, cumulative long-grain rough rice sales are down 22% from a year ago.  However, milled rice sales are up 119%.  Due to stronger milled rice sales to date, total long-grain exports are running 14% ahead of last year’s pace as of August 31.


Rough Rice Futures:

With a week of dry weather in the Midsouth and Hurricane Irma staying out of the Gulf of Mexico, the rice market found it hard to sustain its’ upward momentum this week.  November rice futures have erased all of last week’s gains and look poised to finish the week near $12.71—basically where prices were the day Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

CBOT November 2017 Rice Futures, Weekly Chart.

As of Friday morning (9/8), Hurricane Irma’s path has been shifted slightly westward, with the Florida peninsula now in the crosshairs.  Beyond this weekend, the remnants of the storm are likely impact Georgia and South Carolina with high wind and heavy rain.  By Tuesday night Northeast Arkansas may get some rain from Irma as the storm remnants move in a north westerly direction.  Bottom line for the rice market, the Gulf will be spared from tropical activity through the latter part of September.  Plus, temperatures are expected to warm noticeably toward the end of next week.  This is certainly the outlook needed to move harvest along.  The potential downside could come in the form of softer prices as price support from weather concerns starts to fade.

As trading resumes Sunday night, the grain markets will be waiting for USDA’s revised yield and production figures next week.  The USDA will release its September WASDE report on Tuesday the 12th.  Traders will generally keep to the sidelines ahead of key monthly USDA reports.


Coming Up:

Monday, September 11th

NASS Crop Progress – 3 PM

Tuesday, September 12th

NASS Crop Production & WASDE Reports – 11 AM

FSA Acreage – 3 PM

Thursday, September 14th

FAS Export Sales – 7:30 AM




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Additional Information

Arkansas Rice Updates are published periodically to provide timely information and recommendations for rice production in Arkansas.  If you would like to be added to this email list, please send your request to

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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.

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