LONOKE, Ark. (AP) — Heavy rain that brought record flooding to Louisiana recently has put a damper on the nation’s harvest of rice, a food staple that usually likes water as it grows but can’t be gathered by machine if fields are inundated.
While rice is an aquatic plant, this is the time of year when farmers drain their land and roll in heavy equipment for the harvest. Some fields remain unreachable in parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.
“I’ve heard from a lot of the farmers the water level has been higher than a lot of the past hurricanes,” said Dustin Harrell, a rice agronomist at the LSU Agriculture Research Center near Rayne, Louisiana. Two feet of rain fell in parts of the state.
The 2016 crop was expected to be 26 percent larger than 2015’s, according to Eric Wailes, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas. Losing part of this year’s crop shouldn’t trigger price increases for rice used for food, or for cereal or beer that use rice as an ingredient, he said.
“Having a much larger crop swamps this event,” Wailes said from his office in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “It’s premature to make a strong assessment of what it all means.” MORE