Local rice farmers face challenging 2019 season resulting in low rice yields

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ACADIA PARISH, La. (KLFY)- The 2019 rice season was difficult for rice production in Southwest Louisiana because of poor growing conditions throughout the year.

In Acadia Parish, they’re the number one rice producing parish in the State of Louisiana.

Rice yields were much lower this year because of the challenging season many local farmers faced.
Dustin Harrell, Extension Rice Specialist for the State of Louisiana and a Rice Research Agronomist for the LSU Ag Center Rice Research Station in Crowley, said, “When you look at the state as a whole, we are probably about 17% lower in our rice yields this year than we were in 2018.”

Harrell said this year, yields were around 39 barrels of rice per acre. Compare that to last year of well over 40 barrels per acre.

All because of the challenging season rice farmers endured.

Harrell added, “Last year was pretty difficult for us as far as rainfall events. We actually had three different rainfall events throughout the growing season that caused trouble for our growers.”

Had Hurricane Barry dumped more rain as forecasted, Harrell said it would’ve been a complete disaster for rice farmers.

Still, many yields were lost.

“What happened was we didn’t get as much rain, but the rice was flowering and the flower was open, and that’s when it sheds pollen and it pollinates that grain, and if you get rain and wind during that time, that can disrupt that pollination process. It’ll actually blank the grain and you can lose yield that way,” explained Harrell.

Acadiana farmers told Harrell their rice yields were about 30% lower than previous years.

“Another thing that hurt our yield potential last year was smuts, and it’s a type of disease that’ll hit the rice as it’s maturing and it’s a disease that we really haven’t worried about in the past, but we had epidemic levels of it this year,” said Harrell.

This past year, Louisiana saw 415,000 acres of rice with Acadia Parish producing 80,000.

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