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Rice crop forecast at record

The 2004/05 U.S. rough rice crop is estimated at a record 230.8 million hundredweight, up 3.2 million hundredweight from the last production forecast reported in November, and 30.9 million hundredweight above a year earlier.

The upward revision was due to a higher yield; area was lowered slightly this month. At 6,942 pounds per acre, the 2004 average field yield is up 114 pounds from the November forecast and 272 pounds above a year earlier. This is the fifth consecutive year of a record yield. Both long and combined medium/short grain production were revised upward in January.

Last month, year-end survey data reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) pegged 2004/05 U.S. planted area at 3.35 million acres, down 17,000 acres from the November NASS survey but nearly 11 percent above a year earlier.

Plantings were the largest since 1999/2000. Plantings were lowered 10,000 acres in both Arkansas and California, while raised 3,000 in Louisiana. Medium grain accounted for all of the reduction in 2004/05 planted area.

Production forecasts were revised up last month for all producing states. Arkansas accounted for more than a third of the 3.17-million-hundredweight upward revision in 2004/05 production. Missouri's crop was increased 845,000 hundredweight. Production increases in other states were much smaller.

Yields were revised up in all producing states except Mississippi and Louisiana, where yields are unchanged from the last projections reported in November. Missouri's yield was boosted 400 pounds per acre and California's increased 200 pounds. Yield revisions in other states were much smaller.

Record crops

Rice acreage was larger in 2004/05 in all reporting states except Mississippi where area was unchanged from a year earlier. Arkansas, California, and Louisiana account for the bulk of this year's 328,000-acre increase in total rice harvested area. At 1.55 million acres, harvested area in Arkansas is up 100,000 acres from a year earlier.

California's near-record 590,000 acres is 83,000 acres above 2003/04. Louisiana harvested 533,000 acres of rice in 2004/05, an increase of 83,000 acres. Texas acreage is estimated at 218,000 acres, up 38,000 from a year earlier and the largest since 1999/2000. Missouri harvested 196,000 acres, up 24,000 from a year earlier.

At 234,000 acres, Mississippi's rice acreage is unchanged from 2003/04. Relatively strong prices at planting were behind the 2004 U.S. rice area expansion.

Field yields were higher for all reporting states in 2004 except Louisiana, with record yields achieved in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri.

California yields

California's average yield of 8,600 pounds per acre was 900 pounds above a year earlier and the highest since the mid-1990s. The weather was extremely favorable to growers in California in 2004. In 2003, California yields were adversely affected by a wet, cold spring followed an extremely hot summer.

Weather conditions were quite favorable in 2004 in most of the Delta rice growing areas as well.

At 6,910 pounds per acre, the Arkansas average field yield was up 300 pounds from a year earlier. In Mississippi, the average yield was 6,900 pounds per acre, up 100 pounds from 2003/04. Missouri's yield of 6,800 pounds per acre was 670 pounds higher than a year earlier.

The Texas yield — estimated at 6,740 pounds per acre — is 140 pounds higher than a year earlier.

In contrast, Louisiana's average yield dropped 520 pounds per acre to 5,350 pounds. The Gulf Coast, especially Louisiana, experienced heavy rain and winds early in the growing season.

Rice production was larger this year in all reporting states, with record crops harvested in Arkansas, California, and Missouri. Arkansas and California account for nearly three-fourths of the 30.9-million-hundredweight increase in production in 2004/05. At a record 107.4 million hundredweight, the Arkansas rice crop is nearly 12 percent larger than a year earlier, a result of both larger plantings and a record yield.

California up 30 Pct.

Near-record plantings and a higher yield boosted California's production 30 percent to a record 50.8 million hundredweight. Missouri's record crop of 13.3 million hundredweight is up nearly 27 percent from a year earlier, with both area and yield higher. Texas rice production jumped 24 percent to 14.7 million hundredweight — the largest since 2001 — mostly due to greater plantings. At 16.1 million hundredweight, Mississippi's production is up 1-2 percent from a year earlier, a result of a slightly higher yield. Despite a weaker yield, Louisiana's 2004/05 rice harvest of 28.5 million hundredweight was 8 percent larger than a year earlier.

Total U.S. rice supplies for 2004/05 are projected at a record 268 million hundredweight, up 2.2 million hundredweight from last month's forecast and 11 percent larger than a year earlier. On an annual basis, a record crop more than offset a smaller carryin and a decline in imports. At 23.7 million hundredweight, the 2004/05 carryin was nearly 12 percent smaller than a year earlier and the smallest since 1999/2000.

Imports are projected at 13.5 million hundredweight, a drop of 1 million from December's forecast and 13 percent below a year earlier. All of the month-to-month and year-to-year decline in imports is for medium/short grain rice. Puerto Rico — the largest U.S. territory — purchases the bulk of the medium/short grain rice imported by the United States.

Rice use projection

Total U.S. rice use in 2004/05 is projected at 228 million hundredweight, up 3.9 million hundredweight from December's forecast and 4 percent larger than a year earlier. Total use is the second highest on record. Total domestic use (including the residual, or unreported losses in handling, processing, and marketing plus any statistical errors) accounts for all of January's upward revision and most of the year-to-year increase in total use.

Total domestic and residual use is projected at a near-record 123 million hundredweight, 3 percent above December and 7 percent larger than a year earlier. Food, industrial, and residual use is projected at 119 million hundredweight, up 4 million hundredweight from last month and 8 percent above a year earlier.

Last month's upward revision was based on a smaller-than-expected Dec. 1 rice stocks estimate. Seed use was lowered 2 percent to 3.95 million hundredweight, 4 percent below a year earlier.

U.S. rice exports

U.S. rice exports in 2004/05 remain projected at 105 million hundredweight (rough equivalent of both rough and milled rice exports), up more than 1 percent from a year earlier. Exports are second only to the record 124.6 million hundredweight shipped in 2002/03. A big boost in U.S. supplies, a much smaller price difference over Asian competitors, and a decline in exportable supplies in several major Asian rice exporting countries — as well as in Australia — are behind the projected increase in U.S. rice exports.

By type of rice, U.S. rough rice exports are projected to decline while combined milled and brown rice exports are projected to increase. By class, a fractional decline in long grain exports is projected to be more than offset by stronger medium/short grain exports.

U.S. rough rice exports for 2004/05 remain projected at 32 million hundredweight, down 7 percent from a year earlier and more than 25 percent below the 2002/03 record. Brazil accounts for most of the expected decline in U.S. rough rice exports in 2004/05.

Combined milled and brown rice exports (on a rough basis) are projected at 73 million hundredweight, up more than 5 percent from a year earlier.

Expanded exports of milled and brown rice in 2004/05 are based on expectations that the United States will increase shipments to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, two regions where the United States typically faces stiff competition from Asian exporters.

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