Excessive rainfall in south Louisiana and hot temperatures in the north were a challenge this year for many rice farmers, who saw a decline in their first crop but an exceptional bounceback in the second crop in south Louisiana.
“Most everybody I’ve talked to is pleased with the second crop yields,” said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. “Numerous producers say this is by far their best second crop from the standpoint of yield, and the quality is very good, too.”
That will take some of the sting out of low prices and the lower first crop yield, he said.
Linscombe estimated the 2015 first crop harvest was down 10 to 15 percent from last year. But the per-acre average for the second crop would probably fall in the low to mid-20 barrel range, although he heard of many who cut more than 30 barrels an acre.
“I even heard of a few 40-plus in the second crop,” he said.
He said the north Louisiana rice crop endured unusually hot, dry weather that could affect grain quality.
The crop year in south Louisiana started with heavy rainfall that interfered with planting and spraying.
“This has been one of the most difficult years for rice producers that they’ve seen in a long time,” said Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, who estimated the first crop yield decrease at 10 percent.
Harrell said the excessive spring rainfall complicated the season because fertilizer applications were delayed. In addition, early in the season, small rice plants were submerged for a considerably long time, he said.
Linscombe said disease also was a factor for the first crop.
Even though planting was delayed by weather, the first crop harvest went smoothly with few rain interruptions, and dry weather prevented farm equipment from rutting the fields, Linscombe said. That meant a good start for farmers growing a second crop.