By Jessica Domel and Tom Nicolette

Texas will see 15 percent fewer acres of rice this year.

Farmers reported to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) that they expected to plant around 165,000 acres.

The crop is already in the ground for most and is looking good in the Victoria area.

“We’ve gotten good sub-moisture through the winter. Farmers have taken advantage of that it looks like. The crop has progressed about 70 percent from what I hear,” Galen Franz, Victoria County rice farmer, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “The rains have hit in some places, but not in others.”

Farmers are seeing prices around $10 per hundredweight, lower than the cost of production.

“Prices are extremely low,” Franz said.

Last year, Texas rice farmers dealt with a disease problem and rainfall prior to harvest. It hurt the milling yield, which delayed the marketing of the 2016 crop. That now weighs on the 2017 crop.

“The ’16 crop was a big crop, as well as low quality, and that’s hard to get into the market,” said Franz, who also chairs TFB’s Rice Advisory Committee.

As for the prospects for the 2017 Texas rice crop, Franz said the strategy is simple.

“For everyone this year, try to make the best crop they can with a high milling yield leading to a good quality crop. Try to stick with what they know works on the very tight margins we have this year to limit overhead on the crop,” he said.