The Leading Rice Growing States In The United States

By C.L. Illsley on February 11 2020 in Economics

A crop duster flies over a rice field in Arkansas. Editorial credit: Philip Rozenski / Shutterstock.com
  • In 2018 almost half (49%) of the U.S.'s total rice production was produced in Arkansas.
  • Rice consumption can be traced back to 5000 BC.
  • There are more than 40,000 different varieties of rice.

China is by far the largest rice producer in the world. According to industry reports, the Asian country produces some 195.714 million metric tonnes of the food crop each and every year. In terms of the world's top rice-producing nations, the U.S. currently ranks thirteenth. Annual American rice production is estimated to total approximately 8.3 million metric tonnes. The leading rice-growing states in the United States are Arkansas, California, Louisana, Missouri, Texas, and Mississippi.

1. Arkansas 

Located in the south-central portion of the continental U.S. the state of Arkansas is the nation's leading rice producer.  Rice is grown in about 40 out of 75 counties throughout the state, mostly in the eastern portion of Arkansas. In 2019 farmers in the state harvested approximately 1,126,000 acres; averaging a yield of  7,480 pounds per acre. 

2. California

The Golden State of California began producing rice on a commercial basis in 1912. Currently, about 95% of the farms growing rice in the state are located in the Sacramento Valley. The majority of rice crops harvested in this part of the U.S. are medium-grain rice varieties. Environmental and geographical conditions in California are well suited to rice farming as the state is notable for its dry Mediterranean climate, an abundance of sunshine, scarcity of rain, and fairly chilly nighttime temperatures.  

3. Louisiana

Louisiana is America's third-largest rice producing state. Most rice production takes place in the state's coastal prairies which are located in the southwestern regions of Louisiana. It's believed that rice was originally introduced to the area by Acadians who were fleeing persecution and traveled to the state from more northern areas. The processing of rice crops also plays an important role in the local economy. Rice production and processing are estimated to generate about $200 million in revenue each year. 

4. Missouri

Agriculture plays a key role in Missouri's history, economy, and way of life. The center of the state's rice production industry is located in the southeastern Bootheel area. The historical roots of this profitable agricultural crop can be traced all the way back to George Begley Jr., a local farmer who started planting rice in 1910. Today it's estimated that Missouri rice producers plant approximately 150,000 acres of rice crops each year. 

5. Texas

The commercial rice industry in Texas is largely centered in the state's upper coastal areas where local farmers grow long-grain varieties of the valuable agricultural product. Rice initially became an important economic resource in Texas in the 1880s due to a variety of factors including western immigration, the availability of cheap land, and the introduction of modern milling techniques. In 1904 the Texas rice industry received a boost when Japanese rice seed was introduced. 

6. Mississippi

Most of the rice crop produced in the state of Mississippi is grown the northwestern portions of the state. The commercial rice industry is thought to have been started by a local cotton farmer named Rex L. Kimbriel who began producing rice in the 1940s. Currently in Mississippi, about 130,000 acres of land is utilized for rice production. 

The Leading Rice Growing States In The United States

RankUS StateRice Production in thousand centum weight in 2018
1Arkansas107,325
2California43,425
3Louisiana31,094
4Missouri17,090
5Texas15,060
6Mississippi10,217

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