- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Warm weather is helping the 2014 Louisiana rice crop after a cold, wet spring that delayed planting for many farmers.

“In general, the crop is off to a pretty good start,” said Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station. “It’s probably a little bit later than average but not as late as last year, and last year we had the best crop we ever had,” he said.

Linscombe told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1uWuEKf) the state acreage may increase by 10,000 to 15,000 acres this year, compared with last year’s total of 412,000 acres. Considerably more medium-grain rice is being grown in Louisiana, especially in north Louisiana, he said. “I’ve had several calls from producers planting medium-grain for the first time - or the first time in a long time.”

Water allocation reductions in California where a large amount of medium-grain rice is grown had increased medium-grain acreage in other rice-growing states, Linscombe said.

LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk estimates the crop is about a month behind normal because of the delays in planting.

“They’re still planting in north Louisiana,” Saichuk said. Water-seeded fields are doing well.

The lateness in planting could be a problem if this summer turns out to be seasonably hot when the plants are flowering. If temperatures are normal or hotter-than-normal, “we’ll see a big hit in the yields,” he said

Last year, Saichuk said, temperatures were mild when the crop was flowering. “If that happens again, we’ll be OK.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com