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Rice harvests seem little hurt by rains
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Late August rains that devastated much of the state's row crops at harvest appear to have spared rice from much of the losses.
Joe Street, rice specialist at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said 15 to 20 percent of the rice is down, or lodged, because of the rains.
"Harvest was just getting started when the rain began," Street said. "It delayed harvest for 10 days or so and caused some lodging. Much of the rice that is down and some of the rice still standing has germinated."
The rice that is down can still be harvested, but not as efficiently as standing rice.
"We might lose 10 percent of the grain that is lodged depending on how bad it's lodged, how flat it is laying on the ground and how much moisture it has," Street said.
Rice that remained standing didn't dry as well as it would have without rain, and won't have quite the quality it had before the rain.
Street said germinated rice is not necessarily lost. The embryo is removed from rice that goes to the white mill market, so germination is not an issue unless it has been germinated for a long time. It is more critical for rice that enters the parboiled market not to be germinated.
"We don't think germination will be a serious problem," Street said.
Farmers were only able to harvest about 20 to 30 percent of the rice crop before rains came. They didn't get back into the fields until just after Labor Day to resume harvest.
"We were going to have the best crop we've had in a long time. It may have been the best crop ever," Street said. "We've switched to newer, higher-yielding varieties, and they were doing well. It was a good rice year as far as yield is concerned, but prices are awful. World market prices are the lowest they have been in 14 years."
Even though rains delayed harvest and caused some losses, Street said he still expects yields to be above average.
Don Respess, Bolivar County Extension agent, said the 79,000 acres of rice in the county looked "super good" before the rains, but have been hurt.
"The lodged rice is slowing things down," Respess said.
He anticipates harvests will top last year, but both quality and quantity were hurt by the late rains. About one-third to one-half of the county's rice crop was harvested by mid-September.
"Rice that has been blown down for a couple of weeks has sprouted, and that's not good," Respess said. "The farmers are slowed harvesting the downed rice."