With another harvest nearing completion, rice production appears to have held up, but rising costs are keeping pressure on local growers and a second harvest could be out of reach for growers.
“Our harvest was a very mixed bag. The quality wasn’t the best, probably due to stress. The grains are a little more brittle and a whole grain is more valuable. This year has been hot and dry and the plants need those cooler nights to produce well, so they haven’t had much rest. Due to the lack of rainfall, we pumped a lot to irrigate the crops,” said El Campo rice farmer Danial Berglund.
Texas has traditionally been among the top five rice-producing states, with Texas’ five-year average standing at 178,000 acres, as reported by Texas A&M AgriLife.
Wharton County growers reported just over 39,000 acres of rice production, 33,558 acres were for rakeable grain and 5,617 for seed that won’t, as the USDA reported. .
Raking rice – growing new growth from the base of a cultivated plant – normally helps growers generate extra profit for the harvest, but with higher input costs it could wipe out some full growers. of hope.
“Raccoon crop will likely drop, some acres will not be watered due to LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) water issues. For some, the harvest was sown later. Normally, about a third of our rice (grain) acres are raked. It will likely be down due to the cost of cultivation,” said Corrie Bowen, Wharton County Extension Officer.
Even for growers looking to shrivel up their rice, time does them no favors by suppressing plant growth.
“We need breaks between rains…this humid, wet environment can be good for disease, which is not good for raccoon crops,” Berglund said.
The USDA reports a notable decrease in acres harvested this year, with 181,000 acres harvested in 2021 shrinking to 173,000 acres in 2022, as reported by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Services.
Rice yields managed to hold up despite poor growing conditions.
“Yields were good this year, people growing hybrid rice were in the range of 58 barrels or 9,400 pounds per acre up to 10,500 on the high side. It was rice probably harvested before August 10. I don’t know what the yields did after the rains started,” said Garwood rice farmer Kenny Danklefs.
“Yields ranged from 7,500 to 9,500 pounds per acre, somewhere in the middle. Especially in the mid-upper 7,000 to 8,000,” Berglund said.
Those yields are either on par or better than last year, with Texas averaging 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of rice per acre from 2011 to 2021, as reported by the USDA.
Rice, as a commodity, is trading at a nearly two-year high. As of August 29, it is trading at $17.28 per quintal. In early May 2022, rice was trading for nearly $17.50, the highest rate since 2020.
High prices might be the only thing helping growers offset costs, as input costs have been high throughout 2022.
“(Overall) margins will be lower than expected, leading to lean financial results. At this point, the cost of production is so high that you really need those prices,” Berglund said.
“The cost of fuel is tearing them apart. The price of fertilizer on the first crop was just ridiculous, 100% higher than last year,” said Bob Little, retired general manager of Rice Farmer’s Co-Op.