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Rice farms are adopting precision agriculture technologies

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Precision agriculture refers to a set of practices used to manage fields by measuring variations in nutrient needs, soil qualities, and pest pressures. In 2013, USDA conducted the latest Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) of the U.S. rice industry, interviewing farmers about production practices, resource use, and finances in the 10 largest rice-producing States. Some technologies have been rapidly adopted; in particular, yield monitoring increased in use to 60 percent of farms between 2006 and 2013. Monitors can identify variations in yields within a field, allowing farmers to adjust inputs and practices accordingly. Auto-steer or guidance systems are now used on over half of all rice farms; these reduce stress on operators, and reduce errors in input application overlaps and seeding cut-off at the end rows. The cost savings from using these two technologies can also be accompanied by increases in yields. This chart is found in the joint ERS/National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) report, 2013 ARMS—Rice Industry Highlights, based on ARMS Farm Financial and Crop Production Practices data.

China continues to import rice at a record pace

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rice imports by China are expected to set a new record in 2015, surpassing 2014 levels by 200,000 metric tons and marking the fourth consecutive year of record imports. Rice imports surged in 2012 to more than 7 times the average of the previous 5 years, and continued to grow each year thereafter. China remains the world’s largest rice producer and consumer, and has been largely self-sufficient in rice for more than 30 years and until recently, was typically a net rice exporter. In 2012, China surpassed Nigeria to become the world’s largest rice importer. Vietnam and Burma are the largest suppliers of rice to China, along with Pakistan and Thailand. The United States is currently unable to ship rice to China due to ongoing disagreements over phytosanitary issues. China’s record imports are not due to a short crop or tight supplies, but are the result of much lower prices for imported rice than for domestic rice, and continued growth in use partly due to an increasing population. As the world’s largest rice consumer, even small dietary shifts can have a large effect on the supplies needed to meet consumer demand, and China is increasingly turning to the world market to feed its appetite not only for staple commodities such as rice, but also fruits, vegetables, meat and other consumer-oriented products. This chart is based on the February 2015 Rice Outlook report.

Recent evidence suggests that farmers continue to adopt no-till on more cropland

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farmers have choices for how they prepare the soil; reduce weed growth; incorporate fertilizer, manure and organic matter into the soil; and seed their crops, including the number of tillage operations and tillage depth. Tillage practices affect soil carbon, water pollution, and farmers’ energy and pesticide use. No-till is generally the least intensive form of tillage. Approximately 35 percent of U.S. cropland (88 million acres) planted to eight major crops had no-till operations in 2009, according to ERS researchers who estimated tillage trends based on 2000-07 data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). Furthermore, the use of no-till increased over time for corn, cotton, soybeans, rice and wheat, the crops for which the ARMS data were sufficient to calculate a trend. While a more recent estimate of nationwide use of no-till by all major crop producers is not available, based on the results of recent surveys of wheat producers in 2009 and corn producers in 2010, it seems likely that no-till’s use continues to spread, albeit at a much reduced pace among corn producers. This chart is found on the ERS topic page, Soil Tillage and Crop Rotation, and in the ERS report, Agriculture’s Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products, EIB-112, May 2013.

India is playing an expanding role in global rice-export markets

Thursday, April 18, 2013

India exported a record 10.3 million tons of rice in 2012, making that country the world’s largest exporter for the first time. India’s rice exports increased from 2010 to 2012 because of generally good harvests, the accumulation of record Government stocks, globally competitive prices, and the relaxation of export restrictions. In September 2011, India removed restrictions on exports of non-basmati rice. The restrictions had been put in place during the 2008 global price spike to insulate Indian consumers from higher world prices. Vietnam, typically the world’s second largest exporter, shipped a record 7.7 million tons in 2012, also due to a bumper crop and competitive prices. In 2013, both India and Vietnam are projected to reduce their rice shipments as exports from Thailand, typically the world’s largest exporter, show some recovery. Thailand’s exports dropped to 6.9 million tons in 2012, when that country’s new Paddy Pledging Scheme, initiated in 2011/12, led to government purchases at above-market prices and the accumulation of about 16 million tons of stocks by early 2013. This year, the Thai Government is expected to release some of this rice, allowing Thailand to again become the world’s No. 1 exporter. This chart is adapted from the Rice Chart Gallery published with Rice Outlook: March 2013, RCS-13c.

Southeast Asia's rice surplus projected to continue to expand

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Southeast Asia region is a major supplier of rice to global markets, accounting for about half of the import needs of the rest of the world in 2011. In USDA's most recent projections, Southeast Asia's rice surplus is expected to continue to expand over the next 10 years. Although rice production in the region is projected to grow at a slower rate over the next decade, growth in production is still expected to outpace growth in the region's rice demand. Land constraints are expected to lead to slower growth in both rice area and production, while the diversification of diets away from rice as incomes rise is projected to slow growth in rice consumption in most of the region. Overall, Southeast Asia's net exports of rice are projected to rise from an average of 11.2 million tons during 2009-11 to an average of 14.5 million tons in 2019-21. For this analysis, the Southeast Asia region refers to Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This chart appears in the ERS report, Southeast Asia's Rice Surplus, RCS-12l-01, December 2012.

Global rice trade forecast to be the highest on record in 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Global rice trade has expanded strongly since 2009 and is estimated at a record 38.2 million tons in 2012, up 6 percent from 2011 and 30 percent from 2009. On the 2012 demand side, growth in rice trade has been broad-based, with higher imports by China and the Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal) and South America (Brazil, Colombia). On the 2012 supply side, increased exports by India and Vietnam have more than offset a major drop in shipments from Thailand, typically the largest exporter. India's exports surged to a record 10.0 million tons and Vietnam's exports rose to a record 7.2 million tons in 2012. Higher support prices and a record 2011/12 crop contributed to large government stocks in India that have been sold in the global market at competitive prices, a factor behind the record buying. For 2013, global trade is forecast to slip back to 36.1 million tons as India's stocks decline to a more normal level and the major 2012 importers rely more on accumulated supplies of rice. This chart appears in ERS's November 2012 Rice Outlook report.

India and Vietnam are projected to be the largest rice exporting countries in 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Global rice trade in 2012 is expected to be the second highest on record, with the calendar year 2012 trade forecast of 34 million tons 6 percent below the 2011 record of 36 million tons. The decline in global trade this year is largely due to weaker demand for imports from several top buyers, particularly Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nigeria. India and Vietnam will be the largest rice exporting countries in 2012, making 2012 the first year since 1981-when the United States was the largest exporter-that Thailand has not been the largest rice exporting country. This chart is found in the April 2012 Rice Outlook, RCS-12d.

Energy-related expenses vary across crops

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Per-acre operating costs are important for determining producer net returns, which influence farmers' cropping choices. Rice, corn, and cotton have the highest per-acre expenses for energy-related inputs. While rice and cotton have the highest per-acre costs for fuel, lube, and electricity, corn has the highest costs for fertilizer. Energy-related costs for soybean production are relatively low. This chart comes from the ERS report, Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies, ERR-123, August 2011.

U.S. long-grain prices are projected to increase in 2011/12

Friday, October 7, 2011

The 2011/12 season-average farm price (SAFP) for U.S. long-grain rice is projected in September 2011 at $12.70-$13.70 per cwt, up 70 cents on both the high and low ends from last month. The upward revision was largely based on expectations of higher global trading prices in 2011/12. The 2011/12 SAFP for long-grain rice is well above the $11.10 estimated for 2010/11. In contrast with last year, U.S. long-grain prices in 2011/12 will be supported by smaller U.S. supplies, higher quality, and stronger world prices. This chart is found in Rice Outlook, RCS-11i, September 13, 2011.

2011 ratio of stocks-to-use for total world grains and oilseeds near record low

Friday, September 16, 2011

The ratio of global ending stocks to total use can be a reliable indicator of market prices (the lower the ratio, the tighter the market and the higher the price.) Currently, the stocks-to-use ratios for corn and soybeans are near record lows. The stocks-to-use ratios for wheat and rice suggest reasonably comfortable stock levels, but the shortage of milling-quality wheat has put strong upward pressure on wheat prices. Stock-to-use ratios for cotton, total oilseeds, total coarse grains, and sugar are also low. These low ratios suggest strong worldwide competition among crops for acreage in the 2011 planting season. This chart is found in the September 2011 Amber Waves feature, Why Another Food Commodity Price Spike?

Despite a higher yield, the U.S. 2011/12 rice crop is projected to decline

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The 2011/12 U.S. rice production forecast (made August 12, 2011) was 188.1 million cwt (hundredweight, or 100 pounds), down 23 percent from the year-earlier record and the smallest crop since 1998/99. This month's revised forecast (up 1.1 million cwt) is based on higher expected yields. At 7,114 pounds per acre, the average field yield is up 55 pounds from last month's forecast, 6 percent above a year earlier and the second highest on record. This is the first survey-based forecast for the 2011 U.S. rice crop. On an annual basis, harvested area declined in all Southern States, partly due to severe flooding in the Delta this spring that prevented planting in some areas. Even prior to planting, growers in the South had indicated smaller plantings in 2011/12 due to stronger relative returns for alternative crops. This chart is found in Rice Outlook, RCS-11h, August 12, 2011.

Rice farming is projected to remain a competitive planting option among major row crops

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Despite rising costs, net returns to rice are expected to increase each year after 2012-mostly due to higher prices. Although rising rice prices more than offset the steady increase in costs, net returns are projected to remain well below 2007-09. From 2014 onward, net returns per acre to rice are expected to exceed other planting options by an increasing margin, encouraging a small boost in rice acreage in competitive regions. Strong competition in the global market-especially in the long-grain milled market-and only modest expansion in the U.S. rice market limit the increase in rice acreage. This chart is from the ERS publication, Consolidation and Structural Change in the U.S. Rice Sector, RCS-11d-01, April 2011.

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