California rice prices have been steadily increasing as we enter the spring planting season. There is only a small amount of uncommitted rice from the 2017 crop in grower’s hands. Cash prices for the 2017 crop have improved to $17 over, with some trades reportedly at higher values.
Our state received a wet March and first half of April, which has boosted storage in our major reservoirs. 2018 crop CA planted acres are still uncertain at this point. There are 2 main factors that can lead to a decrease in planted acres.
- A proposed water transfer on the east side of the valley with some of the Feather River water districts would lead to the fallowing of many rice acres. The total number of acres that will be fallowed is still uncertain at this point. Water transfer prices are reported to be attractive.
- If the spring season continues to stay wet, there is the potential we could see some rice acres go to prevented planting. The weather over the next month will be the determining factor.
The USDA released its Prospective Plantings report on March 29. They estimated total California rice acres at 440,000, of which 385,000 acres will be medium grain, 50,000 acres will be short grain and 5,000 acres will be long grain rice. The general consensus of most in the CA rice industry is that USDA’s estimate is lower than reality. Many believe acres will be at or near 500,000. For a more thorough update on the Prospective Plantings report please click here.
The USDA issued its March 1 Stocks report a few weeks ago. California rough rice stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 19.31 million cwt, down roughly 32 percent from the total on March 1, 2017 which was 28.51 million cwt. Milled rice stocks on March 1, 2018 totaled 950 thousand cwt, which is up slightly from the total on March 1, 2017 of 924 thousand cwt. California rice stocks are currently well below average and we expect minimal carryover as we enter the 2018 marketing year.
For the United States, rough rice stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 83.4 million cwt, down 22 percent from the total on March 1, 2017. Stocks held on farms totaled 12.6 million cwt and off-farm stocks totaled 70.8 million cwt. Long grain varieties accounted for 70 percent of the total rough rice, medium grain accounted for 28 percent, and short grain varieties accounted for 2 percent. Milled rice stocks in all positions totaled 5.46 million cwt, down 12 percent from a year ago.