Millions of rice acres harvested; quality is the question

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to the University of Arkansas Extension service, 2010 saw a record rice harvest in Arkansas, with nearly 2 million acres of rice was cut.

They've been saying it's a big year for Arkansas Rice and there was a lot planted but the quality at harvest time is in question.

Blame it on the heat.

I went to Windmill Rice to meet with Will Floyd the Marketing Director.

"During the head filling stage the rice was under a lot of stress."

Too much heat, too little rain took its toll.

Floyd, "The worst yielding crop, the crop with the highest damage and the worst milling crop. Just a perfect storm of just bad characteristics."

Windmill Rice deals with about 50 thousand bushels of rice a day. Will Floyd buys and sells the incoming and outgoing product. With rough yield quality down, it is causing milling issues.

Floyd, "This year we're seeing milling yields in the low 50's and high 40's so it's taking more rough rice to produce the same amount of milled rice."

Those numbers indicate the amount of edible table rice.

Windmill has had to turn a few trucks away this season for poor quality. Floyd said they are having good milling success with rice that has been stored for over 60 days but it has still been a challenge for buyers.

"The crop that we took in earlier did not mill that high. But the crop that we are getting now because it has tempered in the bins for 60 days is running much higher. We've had to be really pro-active this year on the rice that we select. Going out looking at bins and trying to buy the highest quality rice that we can this year."

For farmers it may not be a totally red ink year. Rice prices are up from September and October.

Floyd, "I think the market is kind of compensating farmers for not having as many bushels or having to take a little discount on their milling."

Floyd says based on conversations with his customers they should be able to make expenses and perhaps show some profit.

"In today's economy if you can do that you are doing well."

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