March 27, 2023

Rice acres and yield down in 2022 as a consequence of climate enter prices, different components

Arkansas rice farmers had been hit with a variety of dramatic challenges because the planting and rising season unfolded throughout 2022. Climate patterns shifted from too moist to drought. Enter prices for gas, fertilizers, and others rose dramatically.

Agronomist Jarrod Hardke has a phrase for the 2022 rice season — erratic.

“The yr started with dramatically greater enter prices, particularly for fertilizer and diesel gas,” mentioned Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the College of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Common yields are down from final yr’s file common, based on the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Nationwide Agricultural Statistics Service estimate, Hardke mentioned. “Common yield is estimated at 165 bushels per acre, down from virtually 170 bushels an acre in 2021.”

Whereas the typical yield is decrease this yr, Hardke mentioned — and he expects it to be a bit of decrease when the ultimate knowledge is in — it’s not far off the earlier years of 2017-2020.

Arkansas accounts for almost half the rice grown within the U.S. In 2020, rice contributed greater than $1.1 billion to the state’s agricultural economic system, based on the 2022 Agricultural Profile revealed by the Division of Agriculture. Planted acreage this rising season topped 1.11 million acres, based on NASS.

All rice manufacturing for the state is forecast at 81.2 million hundredweight, down 5% from the August forecast and down 11% from final yr’s manufacturing of 91.1 million hundredweight, NASS reported. The all-rice yield for 2022 is forecast at 7,500 kilos per acre, down 50 kilos from August and down 130 kilos from final yr.

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Rice costs started to rise round planting time, Hardke mentioned, holding out hope that farmers may recoup their enter prices in the long run. However 2022 was the fourth or fifth moist spring in a row, and that delayed area preparation and planting, making these projected costs shaky.

“The rains stabilized a bit round Could,” he mentioned. “After which in June, it was like somebody threw a change, the rain stopped, and temperatures bought up within the 90s. It bought sizzling and dry, and every thing simply dried up actually quick.”

The dry climate in June, when it was time to fertilize and flood rice, put loads of pressure on irrigation programs.

“Rice may be very hardy within the face of extremes,” Hardke mentioned. “So, in June, the rice was rising so quick it was absorbing all of the water. Loads of growers had been late getting nitrogen integrated into the soil, and it took for much longer to place a flood on the rice. Fields that may take three to 4 days to flood had been taking 10 or 14 days.”

Irrigation pumps had been operating continuous, Hardke mentioned. “Growers skilled loads of issues with wells taking place as a result of they had been operating so onerous. After which, they’d points with changing components due to provide chain shortages.”

“These issues simply nagged us all season,” Hardke mentioned. “However rice is resilient, and when it wants assist, it would sort of wait on you, so there was a little bit of an escape for us. However it would solely wait for thus lengthy.”

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Hardke mentioned milling yields had been common for the yr. “That’s higher than final yr after we had file tough rice yields, however milling yield was low,” he mentioned. “That’s not an enormous acquire for farmers, but it surely helps to get a bit of of that worth again from a decrease yield.”

Hardke mentioned the NASS yield estimate doesn’t paint a whole image of this yr’s rice crop.

“The story is concerning the variability of success from area to area,” he mentioned. “Yields had been erratic due to the climate extremes and different issues growers confronted in 2022.”

Dry climate stored illness stress low, Hardke mentioned. However late rains in some areas in August revived illness issues in these fields till sizzling, dry climate returned. Then again, the dry climate throughout harvest was a bonus.

“This yr was the smoothest, driest harvest anybody might bear in mind,” Hardke mentioned.

The prolonged dry climate additionally allowed many growers to organize fields for subsequent yr, work that often has to attend for a dry window between August and April. And people home windows of alternative have been few lately.

“The pace that farmers had been capable of transfer by way of their fields meant {that a} ton of fall area work bought performed, particularly in northeast Arkansas,” Hardke mentioned. “Loads of fields are principally able to plant subsequent yr.”

Rice producers who had losses this final season will obtain some assist from the federal authorities.

The U.S. Home and Senate handed a year-end spending bundle in late December. Included within the invoice was $250 million in help for home rice farmers to assist fight main losses as a consequence of file excessive enter prices.

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U.S. Sen. John Boozman mentioned he helped get the help included within the spending invoice.

“It has been a troublesome yr for rice producers,” mentioned Boozman, who’s the rating member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Diet and Forestry. “Hovering enter prices have harm producers of each commodity, however—as documented by two separate research out of Texas A&M College—had a disproportionate affect on rice producers. I’m happy we got here collectively to deal with this problem within the year-end invoice.”

David Gairhan, chair of the Arkansas Rice Federation, mentioned the help is way wanted.

“The Arkansas rice neighborhood drastically appreciates Sen. Boozman’s profitable efforts to supply assist throughout a time of file excessive enter prices. The timing of this help is essential as farmers take into account choices for the upcoming planting season. Our state advantages from his management and we stay up for persevering with to work with him and his workers within the new yr on the following Farm Invoice and different problems with concern,” he mentioned.