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Experts: Local rice harvest is "big improvement" so far, could set record

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Posted at 1:30 PM, Aug 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-09 14:48:42-04

The 2020 rice crop harvest in south Louisiana is nearly halfway over, and experts at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley say the result is a big improvement from recent years.

Last year, rice crops were damaged by extreme weather, disease, and other issues like sheath blight. This year, "conditions were almost perfect for growing rice," said rice specialist Dustin Harrell in a Friday news release from the center. Disease incidence is much lower, and weather has been much more favorable for growing a crop, added Don Groth, resident coordinator of the Rice Research Station.

So far, Harrell estimates the current crop at 7,250 pounds (44.7 barrels or 161 bushels) so far. He says that if those yields continue, this year's crop could tie the second-highest yielding year or even set a record of its own.

"Regardless if the current crop does not reach the record, it will definitely rank up there with one of our highest-yielding years," he said.

The record year for rice in Louisiana was in 2016, with an average of 7,300 pounds an acre. Last year's crop totaled 6,300 pounds.

Groth and agent Jeremy Hebert say that the disease problems farmers saw last year have not been a major factor in 2020.

"They haven't even seen it in fields adjacent that had smut real bad last year," Hebert said. The harvest is "a big contrast from last year. Things actually worked out in farmers' favor."

Farmers in Calcasieu, Vermilion, and Evangeline Parish are also seeing good yields compared to last year.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. Agriculture Department statistics show Louisiana planted about 430,000 acres of rice this year.

Read more from the LSU AgCenter here.

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