The 2005 rice season is one for the record books. Arkansas producers began the season with a cold, wet spring, followed by drought in May and June and a dry production season. Energy costs reached levels not experienced in 25 years, making this our most expensive rice crop ever. Producers harvested a considerable amount of rice lodged by hurricane remnants, and now they face support reductions.
That said, all indications are that Arkansas producers have produced a record rice crop with a production currently estimated at 108.1 million hundredweight, 600,000 hundredweight above the 2004 production. In 2005, according to NASS, Arkansas rice producers harvested an estimated 1.64 million acres compared to 2004's 1.56 million acres.
Louisiana and Mississippi are also projected to exceed their last year's rice production, while Missouri is projected to have a record production of 13.3 million hundredweight.
U.S. production is estimated at 220.7 million hundredweight, 10.1 million hundredweight below last year.
A quick scan of USDA's November rice balance sheet shows 2005-06 U.S. all rice ending stocks at 26.2 million hundredweight, 4.6 million hundredweight below October and 11.5 million hundredweight below a year earlier, which is fairly normal for the past 15 years. The problem is that medium grain ending stocks are at historic lows of 6 million hundredweight for 2005-06 and long grain ending stocks, though projected below 2004-05, are still problematic at 19.1 million hundredweight.
The season-average all rice farm price is projected at $7.75 to $8.05 per hundredweight, which is up 30 cents on both the high and low ends from the October estimate. There is a fear that export demand will weaken for U.S. rice with strengthening prices.
USDA's U.S. long grain November estimates are as follows:
Beginning long grain stocks for 2005-06 are estimated at 22.7 million hundredweight, the second largest since 1987, following 2002's 26.8 million hundredweight. 2003's beginning stocks were 15.7 million hundredweight and 2004's beginning stocks were 10.3 million hundredweight.
Long grain production for 2005 is the largest on record at 173.2 million hundredweight. 2001 production was 167.6 million hundredweight, 2002 production was 157.2 million hundredweight, 2003 production was 149 million hundredweight and 2004 production was 168.9 million hundredweight.
Total long grain supply is also a record 207.1 million hundredweight, 17.4 million hundredweight above the last marketing period, 2004-05.
Domestic and residual long grain use of 91 million hundredweight, if achieved, would also be a record. Domestic use is 44 percent of total long grain rice supply. The second highest domestic use was in 2001-02 at 87.7 million hundredweight, while last use in 2004-05 was 83 million hundredweight. Achieving 91 million hundredweight of domestic use with the currently assumed 2005-06 all rice price may be challenging.
Total long grain exports, if achieved, would be the second highest on record at 97 million hundredweight or 47 percent of total supply. During the 2002-03 period, exports were at a record 99.5 million hundredweight.
Total long grain use, a record, is estimated at 188 million hundredweight or 91 percent of total supply. 2000-01 total use was 141.5 million hundredweight, 2001-02 was 161.6 million hundredweight, 2002-03 was 178.4 million hundredweight, 2003-04 was 164.2 million hundredweight, and 2004-05 was 167 million hundredweight.
Ending long grain stocks are now estimated by USDA at 19.1 million hundredweight, which is below 2004-05's 22.7 million hundredweight, but still the fourth largest since 1987-88.
Global 2005-06 rice production at 406.1 million tons, trade at 25.5 million tons, consumption of 414.2 million tons, and ending stocks at 64.6 million tons were all raised from the October 2005 USDA report. Global production of 406.1 million tons is 4.2 million tons above 2004-05, and is the second largest crop on record, following the 1999-2000 production of 408.8 million tons. USDA's latest data shows the increase in global production due to a larger crop projected for China. China's 2005-06 production is projected at 127.4 million tons, a 1 percent increase over the October estimate.
A slide show that accompanies this article is available on the internet at http://www.aragriculture.org/agfoodpolicy/ricesitol/graphics/November2005.pdf 
Bobby Coats is an agricultural policy analyst with the University of Arkansas.