Laura brings ‘wind burn’ to local rice crops

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MOREHOUSE PARISH, LA (KTVE/KARD) Nearly two weeks ago, Laura moved her way through the ArkLaMiss, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. As communities continue to pick up the pieces, we’re starting to get a better idea of what kind of damage she left behind. Now we’re starting to see it show up in the agriculture community.

“We may have to use some of our rice up here for what they’re going to use it for. And it may just be a shortage in general, you know, because of that. You know, it could drive the price up a little but you know, I don’t expect it to drive it up a lot” Richard Costello, A Rice Consultant & Ashley County Rice Farmer said.

Wind burnt rice is popping up in fields from Southern Arkansas to Northern Louisiana. Between 3,000-5,000 acres have been affected in Louisiana alone.

“This is the first time we’ve ever seen this kind of damage in the rice fields” Jason Waller, A Morehouse Parish Rice Farmer said.

It’s being seen in late planted crops, mainly affecting the pollination process.

“It kind of beat the rice back and fourth against each other, the different heads that were out. And it just devastated the pollen and the pollination process” Waller said.

Even early planted crops sustained some shatter, which is damage to the pollinated grains. Rice is only grown for human consumption and undergoes strict quality control, which has farmers fearing much of the crop will be lost.

“We needed to have a perfect growing season this year because the prices have been so depressed” Waller said.

As if the damage from wind burn wasn’t enough, farmers are going to have to worry about other issues related to it as they head into harvest season.

“It can create tiny fissures and things in that hole, that rice hole. So that leaves a pathway into pathogens and fungi and things like that” Costello said.

The damage goes beyond the crop itself.

“Not only is it going out of my pocket but it will be gone from being able to take that money and putting it back into the community” Waller said.

Farmers say that they’ll have a much better idea of what the total damage is from Laura once they get closer to harvest time.

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