RAYMOND, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi rice producers and crop specialists are optimistic about the state’s 2022 harvest despite a high population of rice stink bugs that were difficult to treat.

“Overall, it’s so far, so good,” said Hunter Bowman, rice specialist with the Mississippi State University (msu) Extension Service and researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “It was really hot and dry when it was heading out and pollination was happening. But hopefully, that won’t have much of a detrimental effect.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress and Condition report released August 8, rice is 90% headed and 15% mature, which is slightly ahead of the five-year average. Fifty-two percent of the crop is in good condition. Twelve percent is in excellent condition, and 33% is in fair condition.

Another worry for farmers this year was the rice stink bug, which showed up in force. Rice stink bugs feed on the rice grain, stunting plant growth and reducing yield. These pests can also transmit diseases and viruses to the plants.

Producers also face other issues each year, including rice water weevils and Italian ryegrass.

“Rice water weevils are sometimes a problem for us, but this year, we avoided any major issues,” Bowman said. “Italian ryegrass in Mississippi has developed resistance to many herbicides we use for control in early spring, and herbicide options to control the weed in the fall when it emerges are limited due to plant-back restrictions in rice the following season.”

Bowman said Mississippi acreage is down quite a bit compared to the 10-year average.

“We expected to plant about 100,000 acres, but we ended up with between 88,000 and 90,000 acres,” he said. “Some people decided to plant soybeans instead because of high urea prices and better soybean prices.”

Current projections by the USDA put the national average farm price at $15.50 per hundredweight, which is $1.80 higher than 2021. Since the first of August, the harvest month rough rice futures contract has averaged $17.28 per hundredweight.