LAKE CHARLES, LA — Louisiana’s rice harvest is gaining momentum following rains that swept across the southern part of the state as a result of Hurricane Hanna’s pass through the Gulf Coast region last week. Some areas saw rains daily, while others had breaks in between bands to allow for a few hours of harvesting. Now that Hanna has exited, the hope is that weather patterns return to normal as a majority of the crop is nearing harvest.
Early reports on yields are promising, with many growers indicating yields are better than last year, and the overall crop is looking better than it has in the previous few years. This is good news as we head into the bulk of the rice harvest in southwest Louisiana, and an optimistic outlook for growers further north as they begin harvesting in the coming weeks.
“Our first fields did well, but we see yields increasing as we keep going”, said Randy Thibodeaux of the Thibodeaux Ag Group in Morse. “I don’t know if we’re going to break any records, but it’s encouraging and a welcome change over the last few years crop.”
Further north in Evangeline Parish, rice farmer Kane Fontenot said, “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface. The two fields we’ve cut so far have been really good, well above last year’s yield. Over the next few weeks, everyone should be running wide open, as most of the rice in our area will be ready, and all indications seem to point to a better crop than the last year, and that’s reassuring news.”
While the rain events have slowed down harvest, they haven’t put a complete stop to it.
“After recent rains, field conditions are getting softer than most prefer, especially considering our second crop and dealing with the ruts we’ll make”, said Eric Unkel, who farms rice in Allen Parish. “It’s easier to deal with the little things when the yields are more in line with what you expect them to be, which is not something we’ve been able to say the last few years.”