Early rice planting hinders harvest - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cool temps hinder rice harvest

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Researchers at the LSU Agricultural Center say rice farmers who plant their crops early will end up with a higher yield at harvest time.

However, many of the farmers say their hard work and early planting might not be as useful this year.

"It was warm when we first started and everything was fine," Farmer Johnny Hensgens said. "Then it became cold and stayed cold."

Officials at the LSU AgCenter say 80 percent of the state's rice production is in Southwest Louisiana.

"All of the research at the rice station shows that the earlier you plant rice, the greater increase in yields you will see," LSU AgCenter Ride Educator Barrett Courville said.

The cool temperatures through March and April prevent the rice from growing.

"Birds are still migrating and there are a lot in our area," Courville said. "When the weather is cool the rice just sits there. The longer it sits there, not growing, the more they eat."

For many of the farmers, early planting will not make much of a difference.

"We will have everything end up being ready to harvest at the same time and that creates a problem," Hensgens said.

"The rice dryers don't have enough space to dry up all of the rice at once," Courville said. "The machines can't get it out of the fields quick enough and you start losing quality of the rice."

Courville said the harvest season is months away and many factors will play into quality and price.

Around 90 percent of rice plants in Calcasieu, Jeff Davis and Acadia are currently planted.

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