Warm weather is helping the 2014 Louisiana rice crop after a cold, wet spring that delayed planting for many farmers.
"In general, the crop is off to a pretty good start," said Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station. "It's probably a little bit later than average but not as late as last year, and last year we had the best crop we ever had," he said.
Linscombe told The Advocate the state acreage may increase by 10,000 to 15,000 acres this year, compared with last year's total of 412,000 acres. Considerably more medium-grain rice is being grown in Louisiana, especially in north Louisiana, he said. "I've had several calls from producers planting medium-grain for the first time — or the first time in a long time."
Water allocation reductions in California where a large amount of medium-grain rice is grown had increased medium-grain acreage in other rice-growing states, Linscombe said.
LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk estimates the crop is about a month behind normal because of the delays in planting.
"They're still planting in north Louisiana," Saichuk said. Water-seeded fields are doing well.
The lateness in planting could be a problem if this summer turns out to be seasonably hot when the plants are flowering. If temperatures are normal or hotter-than-normal, "we'll see a big hit in the yields," he said
Last year, Saichuk said, temperatures were mild when the crop was flowering. "If that happens again, we'll be OK."