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Celebrate rice in the Delta

The Midsouth is tops in U.S. rice production.

Often referred to as the “staff of life,” rice is thriving in the Delta and is helping to feed the world.FARM PRESS

September is National Rice Month. The Midsouth grows more rice than any other region in the country and the advances that have taken place in this region are worth celebrating.

Arkansas leads the way in rice production for the region. USDA has projected this year’s crop to come in at just over 1.3 million acres. That amounts to about 9 billion pounds of rice.

Two University of Arkansas rice research centers – Stuttgart and Harrisburg – work with growers and USDA-ARS to determine best practices for rice management, including, but not limited to, variety development, disease control and water use.

The Harrisburg location, the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center, will be the site of a new education center, currently under construction and dedicated to teaching children and adults about rice production, in addition to maintaining the valuable research that takes place in the area.

Louisiana comes next on the list for projected harvested acres of rice at 460 thousand acres.

The LSU Rice Research Station outside of Crowley, La., has been conducting research and developing new rice varieties since 1908. The facility includes 30 acres that are dedicated to research on the interaction between rice and crawfish.

That research makes perfect sense to me as the rice/crawfish interaction happens to be one of my personal favorites – I’m talking etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya.

But, the LSU AgriCenter also focuses on water management, rice-wheat farming systems, and disease and pest resistance in rice.

It may surprise some people, but Missouri ranks number three in the Delta for rice production with 2023 projected harvest acres coming in at 195 thousand acres.

In my opinion, the University of Missouri has bumped up their rice research program a level at the Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, providing growers with harvest and drainage information, in addition to looking at rice-waterfowl habitat enhancement, drought-tolerant varieties, cover crops and soil varieties.

A new crop of researchers, with bright futures, are taking on the challenge there in Portageville.

Mississippi is projected to harvest 100,000 acres of rice this year.

My first step into a rice field was in Mississippi. Prior to that, I had no stake in rice production. It really made me think about how valuable rice is in feeding the world and from where U.S. rice is produced – thanks, Mississippi.

Researchers in Mississippi have been instrumental in developing the alternating wet and dry production technique. It is a practical system that helps reduce water use by about one third while keeping yields high. Mississippi State University also has a breeding program focusing on the best varieties for Mississippi climate and soils.

Often referred to as the “staff of life,” rice is thriving in the Delta and is helping to feed the world.

Thank a rice grower and their support organizations during National Rice Month. Have some good gumbo while you’re at it.

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Published Date: September 12, 2023

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