Mississippi’s modern commercial rice production began in 1948 when Rex Kimbrell produced about 300 acres just south of Greenville in Washington County. By 1954, about 77,000 acres were harvested. After the 1954 crop, the U.S. government instituted acreage controls, and only 52,000 acres were harvested in 1955. Rice culture in the Mississippi Delta was limited by this government program, not producer interest. After the acreage control program was eliminated in 1973, the harvested acreage increased to 108,000 acres in 1974. In the following years, rice production increased rapidly, reaching a high of 335,000 harvested acres and 14.4 million hundredweight (cwt) in 1981.
Rice production in Mississippi has been almost totally limited to the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, with very little production outside this area. Historically, the central-Delta counties of Bolivar, Sunflower, and Washington have been the leading rice-producing counties. In recent years, Tunica County has increased rice acreage and annually ranks in the top three counties for rice production in Mississippi.
The table below shows United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency certified rice acres planted by county in Mississippi, 2009-2014.
Cotton and corn acreage in Mississippi are more than 30% below March projections, while growers of soybeans and peanuts planted much more than initially forecasted.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Row crop growers in Mississippi used a relatively dry May to make up for planting time lost earlier in the spring due to wet weather and soggy fields.
As of May 24, planting progress for the state’s four major row crops was slightly behind their five-year averages but ahead of where it was at that time in 2019.
Wet weather that won’t let up has resulted in a very slow start to Mississippi row crop planting, and time is running out for corn.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Weather always plays a role in the spring planting decisions of Mississippi row-crop producers, but the market impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is another variable they will have to consider in 2020.
In 2019, Mississippi’s agricultural industry faced the prospect of dipping below $7 billion for the first time in eight years, but federal payments pushed its value up enough to post a slight gain over 2018.
The estimated value of Mississippi agriculture in 2019 is $7.39 billion, a 0.2% gain from last year’s $7.37 billion. Included in the total is an estimated $628 million in government payments, the largest amount of federal assistance Mississippi producers have seen since 2006
Rice is one of Mississippi’s only commodities to be grown, milled, packaged, sold, and eaten right here in the state. And, for decades, the annual Rice Tasting Luncheon in Cleveland, Mississippi, has allowed local residents to show off their best rice-based dishes at Delta State University in Bolivar County, which produces more than 1.5 million hundredweight of rice annually.