Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 6, 2000. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Rice Harvest Late, But Yields Good
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers are finding that heat didn't hurt this year's rice crop, as yields are looking good near the end of harvest.
A wet spring meant a late rice planting, so harvest is a little behind schedule, but about 75 to 80 percent of the state's acreage was out of the field by early October. Last year Mississippi harvested 323,000 acres of rice.
Joe Street, Extension rice specialist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said most producers are satisfied with yields expected to average 5,800 pounds an acre.
"The high temperatures didn't have the effect on the rice that we expected. We thought the hot weather was going to decrease yields, but temperatures stayed relatively cool at night and that helped us," Street said. "Temperatures in the 80s at night normally hurt yields."
While nighttime temperatures are important, daytime temperatures above 95 degrees while the rice is flowering and pollinating may result in blank grains. Despite often record-breaking heat, blanking was not a factor this year.
"Apparently rice was flowering at times other than when we had the super high temperatures," Street said.
Disease problems didn't materialize as expected this year, a blessing Street credited to very high temperatures and low humidity. The big problem this year was stinkbugs.
"We had severe stinkbug problems as the rice matured," Street said. "Stinkbugs puncture the rice in the milk to soft dough stage, and it causes a spot on the rice kernel. Growers get a reduced price for this reduced quality, pecky rice."
Even with price support payments, rice is averaging just $4 a bushel, a low figure for recent years.
Tommy Baird, Sunflower County Extension agent, said his county's rice harvest is a little behind schedule, with more than 85 percent harvested by the first week of October.
"The rice yields that I'm hearing about are average to good, but nothing exceptional," Baird said.
After harvest, rice is dried, cooled and then milled. After the husk is removed, the quality is checked by counting the number of broken and whole grains and the harvest weight lost to husks and other debris. Baird said he has not yet heard what grade local rice is receiving this year, but expects milling quality to be average.
Sunflower County had 23,200 acres of rice this year, down from 38,800 in 1999, a drop Baird attributed to low rice prices. Cotton and sorghum picked up the acreage that rice lost.