Here it is the middle of March and very wet.
In discussing the 2017 planting intentions with Corrie Bowen, Wharton County Extension Agent, this morning, it is still too early to have definite figures. Corrie estimates are similar to others in that corn, milo, and rice acres will be down. While cotton and soybean acres will be up substantially. The 2016 Wharton County corn acres were in the 70,000 range. This year acres could drop to 40,000. There are reports of cotton surpassing 100,000 acres. Final acres will depend on the weather. Surrounding counties are following these trends. Southern Jackson and Matagorda counties were blessed with dry conditions the past month allowing those producers to progress with planting.
Rice acres will be down in Texas, dramatically. The average reduction should end up in the 25% range. On the Garwood prairie acres will off an estimated 10% to Matagorda County’s 40%. Here at Rice Farmers Coop, we expect a 22% drop. At this time, the outlook of low prices is the culprit. The percentage could increase if the rains do not stop. It is reported that Arkansas may reduce rice acres 600,000. Of course, they increased 500,000 acres in 2016.
Remember the rule of thumb, for optimum yields, rice should be planted by April 15th, especially to be harvested by Aug 15th, the historical deadline for optimum second crop yields. Most varieties produce decent first crop yields if planted by the end of April but the potential of an average second crop yield disappears. In my opinion, if you have to plant after May 1st, conditions will have to be abnormal to generate good yields. There have been a few years in the past few decades that weather conditions are mild enough during the summer months to allow decent yields on rice planted in May. As of today, there is only 200 or so acres of rice planted in Wharton County.
Input cost for 2017 look to be equal to or lower than 2016. If you compare them to 2012 the costs are down quite a bit.
The 2012 and 2016 prices are actual prices from March through May averages from RFC records. The 2017 prices are current prices. All are subject to change at any time.
The last report that I read indicated that fertilizer prices should be stable or flat for the next few months with a chance of increases slightly. Fuel prices have been dropping the last few days after increasing slightly over the past month or two. Fuel markets have been trying to gain some strength but remain unstable.
The markets have been stable to down. Rusty Bergstrom with Rice Marketing reports that ARI, Riviana Foods Inc., purchased over 300,000 cwt. the last two week for premiums ranging from $2.00 to $2.35. Beaumont Rice Mill has purchased very high quality rice for a $2.50 premium. The lower quality #4s and below are not receiving any bids.
The outlook is mixed. Most of the predictions are that rice will remain at the current pricing through this harvest. There are a few that feel the markets are at their low and will start rebounding sometime in the fall. As always, it is who you want to listen to. The grain markets are pretty much the same. South America is reportedly having good corn and soybean yields that may drive the markets down, while cotton is showing strength.
REMEMBER: EAT RICE AND BEEF WHILE WEARING COTTON!
Have a great and safe spring break. Hug your loved ones as much as possible.