Harvest began this year on August 17th. Since we started harvesting early, we decided to ratoon three rice fields (approximately 200 acres). Ratooning is done by harvesting the crop planted in the spring and then flooding the rice field with water to allow the stalk to grow again. This process will produce an additional crop, with fewer bushels per acre than the initial harvest, but will still be profitable. A ratoon crop needs about 75 days to mature. Farms further south in Louisiana do this regularly. Because we are further north, we can only do this on occasional years when the weather is good and even then only on a small percentage of our acreage. The fields have greened up nicely and are already heading out. We should be able to harvest these ratooned fields by late October-early November.
We continued harvesting and had a good run until Hurricane Laura’s remnants visited us on August 27th. The rain and wind caused about 300 acres to lodge (the rice stalk falls over). Lodged rice makes the harvesting process more difficult, slower, and affects the yield per acre.
We were finally able to get back in the field on Labor Day. The fields were muddy and messy, but we made the best of it. We were able to continue harvesting until September 21st, and even late into the night when remnants of Tropical Storm Beta brought in more rain. Though we didn’t need it, this rain created a welcome break after 21 days of non-stop harvesting. Those long 16 hour days will wear on you quickly. This break has allowed us to work on some equipment, get some much-needed rest, re-energize, and spend time together with our families. We are now looking forward to getting back in the field and hopefully finish harvest 2020 in the next couple of weeks.