Poor weather conditions in the lower delta wreaked havoc on planting this week, dragging out the end of planting in Texas and Louisiana. In fact, so much rain has fallen that there were reports of growers sending seed back and simply collecting prevented planting insurance for the balance of their acres. Arkansas was reported 87% completed in the latest crop progress report, however, growers in the area believe the crop to be closer to 95% planted. Acre projections are still rather unstable, but the latest consensus for Arkansas is that acres will be right around 1 million, inclusive of medium grain. The story is similar throughout the US, where rice acres are coming under pressure from either competing crops or adverse weather conditions. It is becoming increasingly apparent that rice acres will end lower than what the trade and the USDA originally estimated.
In general, the southern rice growing states are in their final stages of planting, as is California. At this point, the crops all look good with only minor concern of cooler temps and overcast conditions in the Southern Delta and up into Arkansas. As a result, rice emerged is down almost across this board from the historical averages. California, the only real exception, is ahead of schedule due to growers being able to plant quickly and without impediments.
Total long grain export demand was down over 13% year over year last week, but due to decent bump in sales, demand was reported to be only down 9.6% year over year. Meanwhile, total demand for US medium and short grain rice was down just 4% against last year.
Key global exporters saw prices fall this week as Thai 100% B dipped $15 per ton, while other Asia exporters softened to a smaller degree. Aromatic or specialty varieties took the biggest hit this week, such as Hom Mali which slipped $30 per ton. In South America, export prices were able to stand their ground and were unchanged from last week.
Futures sentiment shifted downward this week as both open interest and prices ebbed lower. The crop will be more thinly traded this year on lower output and as some traditional markets look to alternative markets with greater supplies. Nearby contracts are reflective of slowing demand and the further out contracts suggest less decisive demand for new crop.