Rice farmers throughout the parish are busy and they are beginning to harvest their rice crop, which is good news for them since rice prices are at record levels and will help to offset the escalating costs they face.
The current world market price is at a very good $27-28 per barrel (one barrel is 162 pounds), according to LSU AgCenter Extension Office’s Keith Fontenot, county agent.
While $28 per barrel is as high as the price has ever been, Fontenot said farmers are facing the highest operation costs they have ever encountered. Expenses per acre are climbing ever higher, with some reaching well over $700 per acre. Fontenot said with the increase in diesel and fertilizer costs farmers are still feeling the pinch, even with record prices per barrel.
He stated last year, $19 was a very good price, and in the last two to three years, he has seen farmers sell rice at $12, $14 and $16 per barrel. While it may not be the highest price ever, it is a welcome relief for our local rice farmers. As recent as 2002, the price was as low as $6.10 per barrel.
Fontenot said many farmers are beginning to plant hybrid rice as it has been doing pretty well in this parish. He said approximately 18-20 percent of the rice grown in Evangeline Parish last year was hybrid rice, and that number is expected to be much higher this year.
Fontenot also wanted to make motorists aware of farm equipment as farmers begin harvesting.
“Be cautious on the road,” he said. “There are big pieces of equipment that will be moving from field to field, especially as the harvest gets into full swing. Please have patience when you’re driving because these things don’t go 55 miles per hour and they are not very forgiving in a collision. Please be careful when passing.”