Thursday, May 15, 2014

GUESS FIRST! Which State produces almost half of all rice grown in the US?? Ok, now you can read on...

After attending my daughters graduation from Texas A&M (economics!!) we drove from College Station to our home in the Columbus, Ohio area.

As much as time allows, I like to stay off the Interstate highways and drive the "country roads" to see places I have never been before.  This is where "America" happens.  Love to have those forehead thumping moments when I learn something I did not know before.

Rice.is.grown.in.Arkansas!  (Head Thump!) Hate to admit it but I did not know that.  I assumed Louisiana and Mississippi had the comparative advantage of the proper land resource needed to grow it on a mass scale.

Much to may amazement, I saw unfamiliar field after field like this:

Source: HERE (for some reason I did not bother to stop and take my own picture!!

I have been to Arkansas but never East of Little Rock.  The map below highlights in GREEN the areas of heavy concentration of rice production.  You can see lots of dark green that lies just to the West of the Mississippi River into Arkansas.

Source: Wikipedia
Below is data on rice production in the US by State from 2007 to 2013.

On average over that time span, Arkansas alone produced 46% of the US Rice crop.

Source: USDA ERS

It was not inevitable that Arkansas would become the rice capital of the US.

Here is the story of how it happened (from Arkansas Rice Facts):
Growers in the prairie lands of Arkansas were in need of a crop that could be grown dependably and profitably. Almost by accident, rice became a contender when in 1896, W.H. Fuller ventured southwest to Louisiana on a hunting trip. It was there that he first saw rice growing, which ultimately led to the development of a leading agricultural industry for the state. Fuller, along with his brother-in-law John Morris and John’s wife Emma, are generally credited with founding the Arkansas rice industry. By 1910, rice production, research and milling were established in the state. Today, the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart, Arkansas, showcases the history of this major center for U.S. rice production.
Now you know it too.

Guess it will be chicken fried rice for lunch today...
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