The breakdown between long-grain and medium-grain shows a bit different picture. Arkansas raised 1.79 million acres in total. Louisiana rice acreage was up about 13 percent, Mississippi was up 27 percent, Missouri was up 25 percent, Texas was up 11 percent, and California was up 1 percent. Overall, the nation was up 16 percent.

“It was a huge long-grain rice crop. And we not only increased rice acreage but we pulled back from planting medium-grain.

“That surprised me a bit when looking at California and the strong medium-grain prices. And, to some extent, there have been strong medium-grain prices over the last couple of years in the South. In the coming year, I think we’ll see less total rice acres and more medium-grain acres. That’s the talk I’m hearing out there.”

In 2010, Arkansas was down 13 percent on medium-grain production to 196,000 acres. Louisiana was down, as well.

Several years ago, “there was a lot of contracting that stimulated some of the increase of (medium-grain rice) production in Louisiana and Arkansas. That contracting has slowed and that could be what is influencing the reduction in acres.”

The medium-grain/short-grain production king is California at 563,000 acres. “And they’re on fire, these days. Prices there have been wonderful. The WTO opened the Japanese/Taiwan/Korean markets and the rice grown in California suits those markets very well.

“I often remind our growers that our medium-grain rice needs improvement. We have a very poor medium-grain quality compared to California. We need to improve medium-grain varieties — and I know that’s being worked on.”

The USDA’s NASS estimates Arkansas’ average 2010 yield was 144 bushels per acre — down 5 percent. NASS was “carrying much higher production-per-acre (figures) earlier and reduced it twice as we moved into the crop and realized how disappointing it was.”

For all rice — long/medium/short — U.S. production was “540 million bushels. That’s a 10 percent overall increase and overall supply is up 11 percent when considering we carried in 21 percent additional rice. Total use is up 5 percent and we’re carrying out 43 percent more rice than we were a year ago.”

For medium-grain, “the carryout is down 33 percent. It appears to be a continuing healthy situation with (medium-grain) prices projected at $7.65 compared to $8.28 a year ago.”