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Potential for Commercial Rice
Production in the Everglades
F.A.S. Univ. of Florida
I.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida
Food and Resource Economics Department
Agricultural Experiment Stations
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville 32611
Rice was grown for grain in the Everglades agricultural area during
the 1950s. Commercial production was stopped in 1957 after the hoja
blanca (white leaf) disease was found in the area. Vegetable growers
have been planting rice as a cover crop during the summer months. The
lifting of controls on production by the Federal Government in 1974
made it possible to harvest rice for grain in the area for the first
time in 20 years when a grower decided to plant and harvest rice in
This report summarizes the information developed in the past. It
also contains current costs and returns information. An enterprise
budget for rice is presented. Partial budgets for the one crop-one
ratoon situation, and for vegetable growers not presently harvesting
the rice are also developed. All alternatives show the potential of
rice for becoming a profitable crop in the area.
Key words: Rice, Everglades agricultural area, Enterprise budgets,
Establishing a new crop in an area is no easy task. Tradition and
fear of the unknown may delay or hinder the incorporation of a promising
In the case of rice in the Everglades agricultural area the fears
seem to be justified. Although the crop was grown with success during
the 1950s, the appearance of the hoja blanca (white leaf) disease in
Florida in 1957 led the Federal Government to prevent further commercial
The lifting of production controls by the Federal Government in
1974 made it possible to harvest rice in the Everglades agricultural
area for the first time in 20 years when a grower decided to plant and
harvest rice in 1977. Although varieties resistant to the hoja blanca
disease have been developed, Everglades growers will have to face an
array of problems which will be aggravated by the lack of updated local
The Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC) at Belle
Glade is starting a research and extension program to help local pro-
ducers. The present report intends to summarize the existing informa-
tion that may be helpful until research results become available. For
that reason a section on current cultural practices is not included.
The costs and returns information, however, is current and intended as
a guideline to farmers interested in rice production.
The author is grateful for the information and assistance provided
by Jose Gago-Ferreiro, Pedro Molina, Francisco Pons, Ed Fielding, Lehman
Fowler, Ramon Gomez, and Ramon Acosta. Without their cooperation, this
report would have never been possible.
Thanks also to Donald L. Brooke, Glenn A. Zepp, and Cecil N. Smith
of the Food and Resource Economics Department, and to George H. Snyder,
Gerald Kidder, and Donald C. Myhre of the AREC-Belle Glade for a critical
review of the manuscript. To John Holt, FRE Department, special thanks
for the comments made on an earlier draft.
Mrs. Jeannie Larson deserves credit for her excellent typing and
editing of this manuscript in all its stages.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD . . . . . . .
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . .
LIST OF TABLES . . . . . .
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND, REQUIREMENTS, AND FOOD VALUE OF RICE .
Historical Background. . . . . 1
General Climatic and Physical Requirements . . 2
Food Value of Rice . . . .... ... 3
PAST AND PRESENT STATUS OF RICE GROWING IN FLORIDA. . 5
The Past . . . . . . 5
The Present. . . . . ... .. 6
POTENTIAL FOR RICE PRODUCTION IN THE EVERGLADES AGRICULTURAL
AREA . . . . . . 8
Physical Requirements and Benefits to the Soil
State Project 680 Research Results . .
Potential of Available Land . .
Economic Potential of Rice By-products .
Marketing Considerations . . .
The South Florida Market . .
Obstacles to Marketing . . .
COSTS AND RETURNS FROM RICE IN THE EVERGLADES . . .
Introduction . . . . . .
A Rice Enterprise Budget . .......
A Partial Budget for the One Crop-One Ratoon Situation .
A Partial Budget for Vegetable Growers not Presently
Harvesting the Rice . . . . .
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . . . . .
REFERENCES. . . . . . . .
LIST OF TABLES
1 The composition of rice and of rice products. . 4
2 Producer allotments by county in Florida, 1973 ... 7
3 Approximate planting and harvesting periods for rice,
sugarcane, and vegetable crops in the Everglades agri-
cultural area . . . ... 14
4 Potential of Everglades available land for rice pro-
duction . . . . . . 16
5 United States supply and utilization of rice, 1976-77,
estimated 1977-78, and projected 1978-79. . ... 17
6 Schedule of activities and time required in producing
and drying 280 acres of rice in the Everglades agri-
cultural area, 1978 . . . . 21
7 Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre for 280 acres of
rice grown in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978. 22
8 Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre of different
activities performed by labor in growing 280 acres of
rice in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978. .. 23
9 Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre of different
activities performed by machinery in growing 280
acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area,
1978. . . . . ... ....... .24
10 Estimated cost per acre of irrigating 280 acres of rice
in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978 ...... 25
11 Estimated initial investment and annual and hourly
operating costs of machinery and equipment for culti-
vating 280 acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural
area, 1978. . . . .. .. .26
12 Estimated total costs per acre, for a 50 cwt. yield,
for 280 acres of rice grown in the Everglades agri-
cultural area, 1978 . . . . 27
13 Estimated annual returns per acre, assuming different
yields and prices, from cultivating 280 acres of rice
in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978 ...... 29
14 Partial budget showing net change in farm income from
harvesting a ratoon rice crop in the Everglades agri-
cultural area, 1978 . . . ... 30
15 Partial budget showing net change in income per acre
to vegetable growers from the cover crop-grown for
grain alternatives in the Everglades agricultural area,
1978. . . . . ... ....... .32
POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIAL RICE PRODUCTION IN THE EVERGLADES
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND, REQUIREMENTS, AND FOOD VALUE OF RICE1
This section presents a brief summary of the ancient and recent
history of rice production. A description of its climatic and physical
requirements, and some considerations about the food value of rice are
The ancient origin of this cereal is still under debate. China
has long been accepted as the place where rice originated as a culti-
vated crop because the oldest written record found tells about its
existence some 5,000 years ago. However, many other facts may also
lead to the conclusion that the first cultivated rice most likely
originated in India, Burma, Siam, or French Indochina, spreading later
into China. Ancient Egyptians apparently did not know of this crop
and the Old Testament does not mention it. According to records, rice
was cultivated in Java as early as 1084 B.C., and soon after this period
it spread from India to Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkestan. Greek
authors indicate that Alexander the Great brought rice around 300 B.C.
This section is mostly based on .
JOSE ALVAREZ is area economist with the Food and Resource Economics
Department. He is stationed at the Agricultural Research and Education
Center, Belle Glade.
to Europe from India. Rice was probably introduced into Japan, Korea,
the Philippines, and other Pacific islands from China and Southeast Asia.
The recent history of the crop can be established with more
certainty. After conquering North Africa, at the end of the seventh
century, the Arabs introduced rice into Egypt and the Southern Mediter-
ranean coast, taking it also to Spain. In the sixteenth century the
crop spread to Italy, which was then under the Spanish rule. It was
later introduced into the Balkans and, in the nineteenth century, into
Its first appearance in the area now comprising the United States
has not been clearly established. It is known that, during Columbus'
second visit in 1493, an attempt to produce the crop did not succeed.
Another failure occurred in 1647 when the Virginia colonists made several
unsuccessful attempts.. Superior varieties brought to South Carolina led
to the first commercial production in 1685.
Rice was introduced into South and Central America from Madagascar
at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Spanish and Portuguese
colonists in Cuba, Colombia, and Brazil were probably the first pro-
Rice has been an important domestic food for hundreds of years.
However, its development into a world commercial crop has been more
recent than most other major food crops. It was not until 1840 that
the crop was exported. Today rice has become a major export commodity
throughout the world.
General Climatic and Physical Requirements
Rice is successfully grown in both tropical and temperate zones.
However, temperature, altitude, light, humidity, water, and soil re-
quirements place some constraints on its production.
The total temperature required to mature a rice crop (the sum of
the mean daily temperatures throughout the growing season) varies
according to regions of the world. Variations are mainly due to
characteristics of the different varieties and to climatic factors such
as day length.
Rice can be cultivated at different altitudes and the limiting
factor in high altitudes appears to be temperature. In general, the
crop requires plenty of light; thus day length exerts an important
influence on the plant. Atmospheric humidity requirements also vary
since the crop is grown in both low- and high-humidity areas.
An adequate supply of water is by far the most important factor.
Water, not necessarily abundant, but supplied in a moderate and uniform
manner, is essential for highest yields during the growing season.
Soil is not a major constraint since rice is adaptable to a wide
range of soil types. Some corrections can make certain soils suitable
for rice production.
Food Value of Rice
The food value of rice and of its by-products is presented in
Table 1. The composition of field products (rough rice and rice straw),
polished rice, milled products (rice bran and rice polish), and rice
hulls is briefly described.
When throughly dried, rough rice contains about 10 percent water,
5 percent ash, 8 percent crude protein, 76 percent carbohydrates in-
cluding 9 percent fiber, and 2 percent fat. There is an average of
about 73 pounds of digestible nutrients in 100 pounds of rough rice.
In many areas, rice straw is a common feed, even though it contains only
about 4 percent protein, and is usually supplemented with a protein
Polished rice contains a total of 78 percent digestible nutrients.
Its low protein content produces nutritional deficiencies in populations
using it as a major food. However, as a source of easily digestible
carbohydrates, it is superior to all other cereals and most food pro-
Rice bran, the first by-product in the milling process, contains
62 percent total digestible nutrients. It is an important livestock
feed in all areas where rice is produced. The final by-product is
rice polish, having 82 percent of digestible nutrients, including the
highest protein content.
Rice hulls are lowest in protein content and have a large volume
Table 1.--The composition of rice and of rice products
Field products Milled products
Item Rough Rice rice Rice Rice hulls
rice straw bran polish
------------------------------------- Percent ---------------------------------
Water 9.6 7.5 12.3 9.5 10.0 9.3
Ash 4.9 14.5 .5 11.3 4.8 16.9
Crude protein 7.6 3.9 7.4 10.9 11.9 3.3
Fiber 9.3 33.5 .4 15.8 1.9 35.4
extract 66.7 39.2 79.0 42.7 62.3 34.0
Fat 1.9 1.4 .4 9.8 9.1 1.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Source: [5, p. 66].
PAST AND PRESENT STATUS OF RICE GROWING IN FLORIDA
With various ups and downs, rice was successfully produced in
Florida until the late 1950s. This history, the reasons for stopping
production, and the present status of rice growing in the state are
described in this section.
Green , based on Gray , has summarized the history of rice
production in Florida. Records indicate that the crop was grown in the
state as early as 1763. A letter dated in that year tells about the
existence of "many barrels of rice" waiting in St. Marks to be shipped
to Europe. Four years later the colonists at New Smyrna were growing
rice for home consumption. From 1774-79, during the British occupation,
small quantities of rice were exported to England.
Around 1780 the crop became a staple for planters coming from
Georgia and South Carolina. Past experience led them to conduct some
promising experiments with the cereal until 1785, when lowland rice
production was completely abandoned and the highly subsidized production
of indigo took its place.
The crop was not produced under the Spanish rule. However, Florida
was listed as one of the main rice producing states in the U.S. censuses
of 1839, 1849, and 1859. Up to and after the Civil War, small quantities
of the crop were grown for home consumption.
Florida rice production expanded slowly from 1880 to the mid 1920s.
By 1917, commercial production was up to 803 acres. From 1919-24 an
average of 3,002 acres of rice was cultivated in the state. Production
then declined until the crop is not reported in the census at present.
There are two possible reasons for the decline in output. First,
most Florida commercial rice production has taken place on sandy lands
between Jacksonville and Tampa, and has averaged 136 lb./acre. A yield
lower than that in most competing areas may have caused producers to
The second reason relates to the Everglades agricultural area
(EAA) and deserves some clarification. In the summer of 1950, a group
of rice growers from Texas cultivated 600 acres of lowland rice in the
Kissimmee area with an average yield of 52 bushels (2,340 Ibs.) per
acre. Water scarcity for the fall crop forced them to move to Belle
Glade the following year, starting rice culture on the mucklands south
of Lake Okeechobee . After a first unsuccessful attempt, 100 acres
of rice were harvested with a yield of 45 bushels (2,025 lbs.) per acre.
The success stimulated such an interest that the Glades Rice Growers
Cooperative was established in March 1952. The organization expanded,
machinery was bought, and milling and storage facilities were erected
in the area .
Also, during the 1950s several experiments were conducted at the
Everglades Experiment Station (currently Agricultural Research and
Education Center) covering most phases of rice production . Plant-
ings for commercial production in the Belle Glade area approached 2,000
acres [31, p. 27]. However, on August 8, 1957, a virus disease known
as hoja blanca (white leaf) was discovered at the Experiment Station.
Fearing that the disease could spread to the U.S. rice belt, the
Federal Government forced growers to completely stop rice production
in the Everglades agricultural area [14, 19].
In the mid-1970s, an attempt to grow rice in the western end of
Brevard county did not succeed. Some rice was also grown at that time
at ARC-Hastings. Promising results from their fertility and variety
experiments failed to interest growers due to low rice prices at that
There is no large scale commercial rice production in the state
at the present time. Acreage allotments and marketing quotas were
effective on the 1973 rice crop. About 1,200 acres are allotted to
Florida growers, with Palm Beach County receiving the largest share
(Table 2). Most of the acreage is already subscribed for and is in
set aside (soil bank) acreage [13, p. 3].
Some rice, however, is grown in the state. Particularly in the
Everglades area, vegetable growers have been planting rice as a cover
crop during the summer season. Due to numerous beneficial effects,
Table 2.--Producer allotments by county in Florida, 1973
County of All
Charlotte 1 2.4
Collier 1 3.6
Hardee 1 12.1
Hendry 1 205.6
Highlands 1 12.1
Hillsborough 1 27.3
Lee 1 38.8
Martin 1 28.5
Palm Beach 4 871.8
State total 12 1,202.2
Source: [13, p. 4].
cover crops have been recommended to vegetable growers by the University
of Florida Cooperative Extension Service [36, pp. 3-4].
Vegetable growers, however, do not harvest the rice. Before
maturity, they plow the fields and incorporate it as a green manure
crop into the soil to improve soil tilth. In general, they do not
harvest because of the need to prepare the land for the fall crop.
Some growers believe that, if rice marketing proves to be profitable,
they could plan their vegetable rotation so that some land would be
fallow early enough to flood a large area, plant rice, and be able to
harvest with time left to work the land for the fall crop.
In the spring of 1977, rice was harvested for grain for the first
time since the 1950s. Several sugarcane firms were engaged in com-
mercial rice production in 1978. The potential of the Everglades for
becoming a major rice producing area is now described.
POTENTIAL FOR RICE PRODUCTION IN THE EVERGLADES AGRICULTURAL AREA
The Everglades agricultural area has a tremendous potential for
rice production: physical requirements are at an optimum; the soil
would benefit from its culture; in most instances, existing cropping
patterns facilitate its introduction without having to give up other
crops; and there is a possibility of selling it in the local, south
Physical Requirements and Benefits to the Soil
All physical requirements for successfully growing rice in the
area appear to be met. Vast expanses of flat, high-nitrogen muck soils,
a well-developed dike and canal system, an abundance of water, and a
climate during the summer closely approaching the optimum for the crop,
make the Everglades most suitable for rice culture [14, p. 14; 33, p. 19].
"These are the reasons then why lowland rice can and should be grown in
the Everglades" [31, p. 19].
The historical background and beneficial effects of flooding the
organic soils of the EAA have been well summarized by Genung . The
practice provides good results in the control of certain diseases,
nematodes, weeds, and most subterranean insects. It is also soil
conserving since flooding avoids the continuous oxidation organic soils
undergo when they are not under water.
Rice planted on flooded soil has a definitive beneficial effect on
the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the soil so
planted. These effects, very well documented [10, pp. 342-3; 14, p. 14;
16, p. 283; 18, p. 471; 31, p. 19; 32, pp. 181-2; 33, p. 1891 include:
1. A reduction in field infestations of root-knot nematodes.
2. A reduction in Sclerotinia Sclerotiorum.
3. Partial control of pests.
4. Counteracting the present rate of subsidence since rice culture
requires a high water table for a considerable period of time.
5. Fixation of appreciable quantities of nitrogen from the algae
in the soil-water-rice system.
6. Very little loss of soil particles due to sheet and gully
erosion when rice is cultivated with a canal and ditch system of
7. Residuals from vegetable fertilization may be sufficiently high
to supply the requirements of rice. On the other hand, the estimated
plant food utilization of rice is extremely low when compared to other
agricultural enterprises of the area .
Of an economic nature would be the impact in the agriculture of the
area since most producers already have the potential to grow it. Mill
by-products would supply important feeds for cattle. Grown in the off-
season for vegetables and sugarcane, rice production would help stabi-
lize some migratory labor.
Other research results are also available. They relate to the
soil [14, 16, 18, 21, 22, 29, 37], insect, disease, and weed control
[8, 12, 19, 20, 32, 33, 36], and the successes and failures of former
attempts to grow rice in the EAA [2, 3, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 21, 24, 30,
31]. The results obtained from State Project 680 are especially note-
worthy and are described below.
State Project 680 Research Results
During the 1952-58 period, field and greenhouse experiments were
conducted at the Everglades Experiment Station under State Project 680.
Results were published in the Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Annual Research Reports  covering that period. This section briefly
summarizes such annual research results.
1952-53: Two thousand acres of rice were planted in 1952 and again
in 1953. Although the crop that was planted in late August and Septem-
ber of 1952 was badly damaged by an early frost, good harvests were
obtained from earlier plantings in that year. Experiments on date,
rate, and method of seeding for different grain types and maturities
plus a world collection of 2,000 varieties were underway. Variety test
results are not included since most of the varieties are not available
Good yields of rice on plants relatively free of disease were
obtained by planting 60 pounds of seed per acre. Seeding more than 80
pounds per acre resulted in diseased stands due to the length of time
required for dew to dry in the mornings. The most abundant rice weeds
found included barnyardgrass, Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.,
and a number of genera of green algae that cause thick scums.
In the fall, chlorotic rice seedlings were found on most fields on
Everglades peat soil but not on Okeechobee muck soil or on Everglades
peaty muck soil. Experimental results revealed that proper soil prepar-
ation and water control were more important than iron in preventing
chlorosis of seedlings.
Moderate infestations of the sugarcane moth borer, Diatraea
saccharalis (F.), and moderate to heavy infestations of the rice stink
bug, Solubea pugnax (Fab.), and of Mormidia were observed. Rapid
reductions of both Solubea and Mormidia were obtained with single
applications of 2 percent parathion and 20 percent toxaphene, applied
as dusts at 30 lbs./acre.
Blast, Piricularia oryzae (Br. and Cav.) appeared both years from
mid-June to November with some varieties being more susceptible than
others. Brown spot, Helminthosporium oryzae (van Breda de Haan.), was
observed in commercial and experimental plantings over the general area.
Symptoms resembling bordered sheath spot, Rhizoctonia oryzae (Ryker and
Gooch), R. solain (Kuhn), and R. zeae (Voorhees) were observed on
scattered individual plants in commercial fields.
1954: Late February or early July seedings may have aided in
maturing plants early or late enough to escape blast disease. The use
of balanced fertilizers made the plants less susceptible to both blast
Broad-leafed weeds were not a factor in rice production with good
seedbed preparation. Although water barnyardgrass was difficult to
control when rice was planted on dry ground, its presence did not affect
yields or quality. Satisfactory stands of rice were obtained by plant-
ing 75 Ibs. of seed per acre.
Pumping and rainfall records maintained on a 90-acre commercial rice
field in newly developed peat showed a water requirement for the first
crop of 12.5 feet in addition to 1.4 feet of rainfall during the growing
period from April 10 to July 25. The stubble crop used 10.1 feet of
pumped water in addition to 2.1 feet of rainfall from August 28 to
Although no difference in grain yields was found, field tests from
two plantings on Everglades peat soils receiving 200 Ibs./A of ferrous
sulfate showed that not adding P, K, and trace elements resulted in
shorter, darker green plants and reduced percentage of mature plants.
In another field test, no difference in grain yields was noticed after
comparing applications of ferrous sulfate at 200 Ibs./A and ferric
sulfate and iron oxide at equivalent rates of Fe, and ferrous-Amberlite
resin, and EDTA-NaFe at 200 lbs./A to check plots.
Soil upon which rice had responded to iron under field conditions
was planted to rice in the greenhouse after treatments with 1,000 lbs./A
of (1) ferrous sulfate, (2) aluminum sulfate, (3) FE-EDTA-PH, (4) iron
oxide, (5) ferric sulfate, (6) 300 Ibs./A ferrous sulfate, (7) leaching
with water and (8) no treatment. Based upon the increasing degree of
chlorosis, the treatments were rated (7) and (3); (2), (4), (5), and
(1); (6) and (8). Dry-weight yields of the two-month old plants indi-
cated that treatments (3) and (5) were superior. Iron contents were
highly variable and trends were lacking.
In another greenhouse experiment, no responses to Fe or K applica-
tions were found in a soil low in potash that had, under field conditions,
produced normal-appearing rice plants but no grain.
1955: Agronomic investigations on the performance of different
varieties were conducted. Resistance to the rice blast disease caused
by the fungus Piricularia oryzae was found in numerous released and
Experiment results indicated that 500 Ibs./A of 0-8-24 fertilizer
plus the normal recommended rates of trace elements would insure suf-
ficient nutrients to produce maximum yields of rice on virgin peat soils.
Fertilizer application resulted in increased yields. Number of heads
were not always a good indication of grain yield.
Sandy soils needed large amounts of nitrogen. Applying 50 lbs./A
each of N, P205 and K20 followed by a top-dressing about six weeks later
of 100 Ibs./A each Of N and K20 produced satisfactory rice plants and
yields of grain.
1956: Periods of extensive blast caused by Piricularia oryzae
occurred when minimum night temperatures were warm. A flooded paddy of
young rice was more susceptible to blast than unflooded rice. Research
results showed that rice planted in March or April should escape blast
infection in most years.
1957: High yields were obtained from numerous unreleased hybrid
varieties and were not directly associated with parentage, station of
origin, disease resistance, length of growing season, grain length,
plant height or lodging.
A rate of planting test showed no significant difference in yield when
the seeds were planted at rates of 0.5 and 1.5 bushels per acre (22.5 and
67.5 Ibs./A., respectively). In a row spacing test involving the same
variety it was found that rice planted at the 1.5 bushel rate yielded
equally when planted in rows 8 and 16 inches apart, but yielded more than
plantings spaced 24 and 32 inches apart, which themselves yielded equally.
Difference in plant heights could not be associated with row spacing.
More results reinforced earlier observations that early plantings
of rice during March or April can be a means of reducing blast.
1958: Although several fungus diseases of rice were noticed, blast
was the only one presenting a serious threat to rice production. Late
February or early July seedings are suggested to escape blast in suscep-
Again no yield differences were found from plots seeded at 22.5, 45,
and 67.5 Ibs./A:
Birds have presented a serious threat to rice production. Late
October was the worst since this area appeared to be a stopping point
of a mass migration.
The hoja blanca (white leaf) disease was discovered at the Experi-
ment Station and caused all rice plants to be destroyed to prevent the
spread of the disease. The report survey thus ended in 1958.
Potential of Available Land
A large part of the EAA acreage could be devoted to rice production
and rice could be incorporated into the different cropping systems with-
out much difficulty. Both possibilities have been explored in two re-
cent publications [2, 30].
Every year, around 300,000 acres of land are planted to sugarcane.
In addition, an estimated 85,000 acres are fallowed through most of the
year awaiting planting in the fall.2 About 50,000 acres planted to
different vegetables in the EAA  also lie idle during the summer
months. As mentioned earlier, some fields are flooded and some vegetable
growers plant rice as a cover crop without harvesting it for grain.
Approximate planting and harvesting periods for rice, cane and
vegetable crops in the EAA are illustrated in Table 3. The wide range
of the planting and harvesting activities should make it easy to fit
a rice crop into many different combinations.
The most feasible combination is with sugarcane. The facts that
land becomes available in mid to late winter, and that some fields will
remain idle for eight to ten months, make these fields most suitable
for rice production. A second crop from the rice ratoon would also be
feasible to obtain.
Vegetable crops present different alternatives. Snyder et al. 
have outlined some of the possible combinations. All of them will of
course vary depending on how growers rotate their fields and what crops
they produce. Nevertheless, there appears to be a great number of
2Personal communication with G. Kidder, Assistant Professor and
Extension Sugarcane Specialist, AREC, Belle Glade, University of Florida.
Table 3.--Approximate planting and harvesting periods for rice, sugarcane, and vegetable crops in the
Everglades agricultural area
March April May June July Aug. Sept Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April May June
Bean planting ____
Corn planting __
Chinese cabbage planting
Chinese cabbage harvesting
Source: Personal communication with V. L. Guzman, Professor of Vegetable Crops, AREC, Belle Glade.
The potential of the available land to produce rice is indeed impres-
sive. Several a priori estimates can be made (Table 4). If all 85,000
and 50,000 acres of sugarcane and vegetable land, respectively, were
devoted to rice production, and a yield of 40 cwt./A were obtained
(60 cwt. for cane assuming a ratoon crop), the area would produce 7,100,000
cwt. of rice per year. Assuming the same yield for 50, 25, and 10 percent
of the available land, quantities of 3.5 million, 1.775 million, and
710,000 cwt. respectively, would be obtained. Lest the reader infer that
such production would affect the domestic price, it is worthwhile mention-
ing that 7.1 million cwt. would be about 4.4 percent of total U.S. annual
rice supply projected for the 1978-79 period. If a more reasonable figure
of 2 million cwt. is assumed, still significant for the Everglades economy,
it would fall below 2 percent of total U.S. supply (Table 5).
Economic Potential of Rice By-products
The composition and food value of rice and of its by-products were
presented in Table 1. Since the establishment of a rice mill in the area
is a sine qua non condition for a successful rice operation, as noted
below, this section outlines the economic potential of all by-products.
The major field by-product is rice straw. Although it has a great
variation in its utilization in different parts of the world, in the
United States the common practice after harvest is to turn cattle into
the fields to utilize the residue [5, pp. 25-6].
The most important by-products from the milling process include
broken rice, rice bran, and rice polish. The broken rice is utilized
by food processing industries, breweries, and livestock feed manufactur-
ers. Rice bran is an important cattle feed, and rice polish is utilized
mostly as a concentrated carbohydrate feed for fattening hogs [5, p. 24].
An important use of the rice hulls in the United States is as fuel
in operating the steam power plants of the rice mills [5, p. 24]. Mills
operating with electric power from local electric companies have to dis-
pose of the hulls. However, recent research at the University of Florida
has shown the usefulness of rice hulls as an ingredient of the medium
for growing foliage plants .
Table 4.--Potential of Everglades available land for rice production
---- ------------------ ---t----------------------Cw-
aA ratoon crop is assumed
in sugarcane land.
Table 5.--United States supply and utilization of rice, 1976-77,
estimated 1977-78, and projected 1978-79
1976-77 1977-78 1978-79 Projecteda
Estimated Alt. I Alt. II
-------------- Million acres ------------
Allotment 1.80 1.80 1.80 1.80
Planted 2.49 2.26 --
Harvested 2.48 2.25 --
---------------Lb. per acre-------------
Yield per harvested unit 4,663 4,412 -
Beginning stocks 36.9 40.5 27.9 27.9
Production 115.6 99.2 131.5 114.3
Supply, total 152.6 139.7 159.4 142.2
Domestic 42.7 43.8 43.1 47.1
Exports 65.6 68.0 61.2 70.4
Use, total 108.3 111.8 104.3 117.5
Ending stocks 40.5 27.9 55.1 24.7
Difference unaccounted +3.8
------------- Dollar per cwt.------------
Price received by farmers 7.02 9.43 6.25-6.75 9.00-10.00
aAlternative I--Assumes relatively favorable spring and summer
weather conditions in the U.S. and abroad.
Alternative II--Assumes unfavorable U.S. and foreign weather conditions.
Season average price.
Source: [34, p. 12].
All rice by-products can therefore be utilized in several ways.
The agriculture of the area.offers them different outlets. Proper
marketing should provide rice producers with additional sources of
Rice is one of the major U.S. commodities under the Food and Agri-
culture Act of 1977. In general, Title VII of the Act amends and extends
through 1981 the Rice Production Act of 1975. Historical acreage allot-
ments, a minimum national of 1.8 million acres, continue to apply. The
set-aside provision is still in effect . Farmers participate in
the program on a voluntary basis. Controls on rice production were
lifted by the Federal Government in 1974. That fact allows growers
without historical acreage allotments to plant and market rice. In the
1977-78 crop, for example, 20 percent of the total area planted to rice
in the United States was outside the program as opposed to 28 percent
the year before .
The rice produced in the EAA could easily be sold in south Florida.
The geographic location of the region accentuates even further the
economic potential of this crop. The high and increasing Latin popula-
tion of south Florida might consume a great portion of the rice produced
in the Everglades. Florida's proximity to the Caribbean, which accounts
for most U.S. rice exports to Latin America, offers the possibility of
exporting rice. Finally, the possible restoration of commercial rela-
tions between the United States and Cuba may very well offer a third
The South Florida Market
Mullins  has recently looked at the possibility of Everglades
rice selling in the Florida market. Rice consumption in Florida is es-
timated at 10 to 11 pounds per capital, well above the 6.0 to 6.5 pounds
average for the United States. A dramatic 100 percent increase in
Florida rice consumption took place from the early 1950s to 1972-73,
from 400,000 to 800,000 cwt. of milled rice. At the current consumption
rate, slightly over 25,000 acres would be needed to supply the in-state
Florida market if yields of 45 cwt. per acre were obtained. The former
figures, plus savings on transportation costs, accentuate the potential
of the Everglades for becoming a major rice producing area in the
Obstacles to Marketing
Two major problems must be solved before successful marketing of
Florida rice can take place. There must first be an expansion of the
existing drying capacity, and second, milling facilities must be built.
The establishment of a rice mill is essential. Selling the unmilled
(rough) rice through the Louisiana or the Arkansas markets may render
the crop uneconomical due to high transportation costs.
The dryer constructed in the area in mid-1977 for drying rice is
relatively small. If a large acreage is devoted to rice production the
drying capacity will have to be expanded.
COSTS AND RETURNS FROM RICE IN THE EVERGLADES
Farm cost and return analysis is a technique for assembling and
organizing information on costs, prices, technology, and production
practices. Its main objective is to help make sound decisions concern-
ing the management of farm resources.
Complete and partial budgeting are two devices used to conduct
farm cost and return analysis. A complete budget includes all items of
costs and returns and shows, in single product operations, the net
income from the whole farming system. A partial budget includes esti-
mates of only the changes in costs and returns associated with varia-
tions in organization of enterprises (or resources), or operation. It
indicates the probable difference in net incomes from alternative plans.
3The concepts in this section were taken from .
A partial budget is useful for handling all situations arising from
a proposed change in the use of farm resources. Since those may include
increased or decreased costs and increased or decreased receipts, a
partial budget contemplates all these situations to help the manager
decide whether or not to make the alternative change.
The cost and return analysis of this section is composed of three
parts. The first subsection presents a complete budget for rice pro-
duction in the EAA. The next two subsections contain partial budgets,
one illustrating the income possibilities from obtaining two crops from
the same planting, and another showing the net change in income to
vegetable growers not presently harvesting the rice.
Data were collected from personal interviews with all growers re-
cently involved in rice production. Generalizations from these data can
be easily made. Results apply to the whole agricultural area due to the
existence of similar soils, irrigation systems, and size of operations.
It should be pointed out that the figures should be considered preliminary
until research results provide better production and management practices
for the area. The same applies to the schedule of activities herein
presented (Table 6). However, they reflect present practices that can
be improved to provide even higher returns. The increase in returns
will depend upon markets and natural problems such as incidence and
severity of diseases.
A Rice Enterprise Budget
An enterprise budget for rice grown in the EAA has been developed
(Table 7 to Table 12). The budgeted production unit is one-half section
(about 320 gross acres) which nets eight blocks of 35 acres (280 total
Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre total $215. It should be
pointed out that fixed costs of machinery and equipment represent about
24 percent of total pre-harvest costs. If sugarcane and vegetable
growers charge that amount to their total operations, pre-harvest
costs per acre would be lower. The figures were included for the benefit
of newcomers to the area interested in rice production.
Table 6.--Schedule of activities and time required in producing and
drying 280 acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area,
Activity Feb. Mar. April May June July Aug.
-------------------- Hours --------------------
Land breaking 299
Disking, offset 120
Disking, harrow 75
Land leveling 128
Building levees 190
Roller application 45 45
Disking, harrow 38 37
Seed covering 70
Herbicide appl. 12
Fung. & insect. appl. 6 6
Irrigation 17 70 70 70
Destroying levees 25
Total man-hours 494 401 225 82 76 76 212
Operators' labor 494 401 208 -- -- 212
Custom hired labor -- 17 82 76 76
aMonths will vary
This schedule pertains
according to planting date and varieties planted.
to the situation described in this report.
Tahpl 7.--Fstimatei no-h ,o t aCat 1 acre for 280
I. Variab e costs
II. Fixed costs
0-12-20 plus minor elem.
Broadcast. Custom hired
3 pints/A (2x)
1 lb./A (2x)
1 pint/A (2x)
Custom hired (4x)
At 10% of ,ariab. ccs;
At 9% for 5 month-
aTransportation costs included.
charge is made to land since it lies id'e during this
is generally practiced whether rice is grown or not.
period; or to the irrigation system because
, 'it 1 ^i u I \
1.. -.-.,.~iUc~ G~I i~SLi; cullii i
inint f Quant.
Table 8.--Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre of different activities performed by labor in growing 280
acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978
Land disking (offset)
Land disking (harrow)
Land disking (harrow)
Fung. and insect appl.
37.5 acres/20 hrs.
37.5 acres/8 hrs.
37.5 acres/5 hrs.
70 acres/8 hrs.
8 levees of 800 m.,
each, and 1 of
1,600 m.; 19 hrs./
100 acres/8 hrs.
37.5 acres/5 hrs.
10 acres/2 hrs.
2 flagmen 3 hrs.
2 flagmen 3 hrs.
---- Dollars ----
Table 9.--Estimated pre-harvest costs per acre of different activities performed by machinery in growing
280 acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978
Activity Equipment Description Tmes Quant. Price Amount
-Hrs.- ---- Dollars ----
Land breaking Tractor, 150HP 37.5 acres/20 hrs. 2 0.535 4.18 4.47
Disk offset, 11' 2 0.535 0.65 0.70
Land disking Tractor, 225HP 37.5 acres/8 hrs. 2 0.215 6.70 2.88
Disk offset, 9' 2 0.215 0.60 0.26
Land disking Tractor, 225HP 37.5 acres/5 hrs. 2 0.135 6.70 1.81
Disk harrow, 21' 2 0.135 0.90 0.24
Land leveling Tractor, 150HP 70 acres/8 hrs. 4 0.115 4.18 1.92
8-row, 30" 4 0.115 0.85 0.39
Building levees Back hoe 8,000 meters in 190 hrs. 1 0.64 5.65 3.62
Roller application Tractor, 150HP 100 acres/8 hrs. 4 0.08 4.18 1.34
Roller, 10' 4 0.08 0.10 0.03
Planting Grain drill, 10' 10 acres/2 hrs. 1 0.20 1.70 0.34
Seed covering Tractor, 150HP 4 acres/hr. 1 0.25 4.18 1.05
Roller, 10' 1 0.25 0.10 0.03
Total 6.44 19.08
aFrom Table 11.
Table 10.--Estimated cost per acre of irrigating 280 acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978a
b Oil and d Misc.
Activity and description Date Fuelb iac Labor oMisc.v e Total
---------------------- Dollars ---------------------
Flooding after first herbicide
application; 12 hrs./40 acres;
3"/acre End Apr. 0.22 0.0404 0.21 0.05 0.52
Flooding after second herbicide
application Mid. May 0.22 0.0404 0.21 0.05 0.52
Daily pumping when flooded
(73 days with no rain) at
6 hrs./day/40 acres Apr.-Aug. 6.60 1.212 6.30 1.50 15.61
aAssumes two low head centrifugal pumps with
b35 gal./24 hrs. at $.50/gal.
c2 quarts of oil/24 hrs. at $1.66/quart, and
at $.12/ lb.
5 hrs./day at $3.40/hr.
eAt 10 percent.
Assumes 60 days of needed pumping.
23" interior diameter pumping 7,000 gallons per minute.
includes oil changes every week; lb. of grease/24 hrs.
Table 11.--Estimated initial investment and annual and hourly operating costs of machinery and
for cultivating 280 acres of rice in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978
Initial New Annual Fixed cost
Item list purchase Years Salvage ua e sVariable
price price owned value (hrs.) Arnualc P/A cost/hr.
Tractor, 225HP $42,000 $37,800 10 $12,406 600 $5,427 $ 6.33 $6.70
Tractor, 150HP 28,100 25,290 10 8,300 600 3,632 12.70 4.18
Disk offset, 9' 2,480 2,232 10 438 200. 359 0.38 0.60
Disk offset, 11' 2,850 2,565 10 504 300. 385 0.69 0.65
Disk harrow, 21' 5,200 4,680 10 919 200f 703 0.47 0.90
Land leveler, 8-row, 30' 4,400 3,960 10 778 300f 595 0.91 0.85
Roller, 10' 1,700 1,530 10 300 300f 230 0.44 0.10
Grain drill, 10' 3,200 2,880 10 566 100 432 0.86 1.70
Grain cart, 5T (2) 8,000 7,200 20 417 180 792 2.20 0.25
SP Combine, 16' 40,300 36,270 10 8,445 180f 5,381 20.03 5.50
Back hoe 46,000 41,400 10 13,588 -600 5,571 5.94 5.65
Bulldozer 44,000 39,600 10 12,997 600 5,330 0.74 6.10
aAt 90 percent of initial list price.
Procedure for its computation was taken from .
cIncludes straight line depreciation; interest on average investment at 10 percent calculated by add-
ing initial list price to salvage value and dividing by two; and taxes and insurance at 1 percent of pur-
Annual fixed costs (hrs. of annual use x hours of use per acre).
elncludes repairs, fuel, and lubricant.
Not all time is used on rice enterprise.
Table 12.--Estimated total costs per acre, for a 50 cwt. yield, for
280 acres of rice grown in the Everglades agricultural
Activity Description Unit Quant. Price Amount
Growing Table 7 acre 1.00 215.34. 215.34
Harvestinga 1.5 acres/hr. hr. 0.67 -- 5.97
Hauling to dryerb Custom hired cwt. 1.00 0.17 8.50
Dryingc Custom hired cwt. 1.00 0.65 32.50
Destroying leveesd 25 hrs./300 acres acre 1.00 5.34 5.34
aAt $5.50/hr. for machinery (Table 11) and $3.40/hr. for labor.
bHauling charges will vary depending upon distance from the field
to the dryer (about 15-20 miles are assumed).
cAt $.093 per cwt. per point of moisture and assumes rice is
harvested at approximately 20 percent moisture content and dried down
to 13 percent.
0.083 hrs./acre, and includes $6.10/hr. for machinery (Table 11)
and $3.40/hr. for labor.
Total costs per acre are estimated for a yield of 50 cwt. per acre
(Table 12). They include costs incurred in growing, harvesting,'hauling
to the dryer, drying, and destroying the levees. These total costs are
about $268 per acre.
The return analysis assumes prices ranging from $7 to $11 per cwt.
(Table 13). Ten cwt. above and below the expected 50 cwt. yield are
also considered to account for yield variability of a newly introduced
crop. Returns per acre start at $20 for the $7 per cwt. with a yield of
40 cwt. They increase to $ 384 per acre when the price is $11 per cwt.
and 60 cwt. per acre are obtained. Given market conditions at the
time Florida rice enters the market and two years of experience, the
higher return levels seem possible.
A Partial Budget for the One Crop-One Ratoon Situation
Sugarcane growers have the possibility of obtaining two crops of
rice from the same planting. Sugarcane harvesting generally takes
place from November through March while plantings may start in September
and end in late January. Land may be fallow for nine or ten months.
Rice, on the other hand, can be planted from March through July and
harvested through December (Table 3). Very-short-season varieties
(Labelle and Lebonnet) requiring 110 to 120 days to mature have already
been planted with success in the area. Since land preparation, growing
and harvesting the crop take no more than five months, the remaining
four to five months may be used in obtaining a ratoon crop leaving time
for land preparation for the fall planting. This procedure has already
been practiced in the area.
A partial budget describing the former situation has been developed
(Table 14). A ratoon crop of 25 cwt. per acre and $9/cwt. were assumed.
By spending only about $74 more per acre, an additional net $185 per
acre may be obtained in a relatively short time. This possibility
greatly enhances the income potential of rice.
A Partial Budget for Vegetable Growers Not Presently Harvesting the Rice
Vegetable growers usually flood their land during the summer months.
Table 13.--Estimated annual returns per acre, assuming different yields
and prices, from cultivating 280 acres of rice in the Ever-
glades agricultural area, 1978
Yield/acre Price Total Total Net
revenue/acre costs/acre revenue/acre
---Cwt.--- $/cwt. -------------------Dollars---------------
40 7 280 260 20
40 8 320 260 60
40 9 360 260 100
40 10 400 260 140
40 11 440 260 180
50 7 350 268 82
50 8 400 268 132
50 9 450 268 182
S50 10 500 268 232
50 11 550 268 282
60 7 420 276 144
60 8 480 276 204
60 9 540 276 264
60 10 600 276 324
60 11 660 276 384
aFrom Table 12. Total
been adjusted accordingly.
costs for the 40 and 60 cwt. yields have
Table 14.--Partial budget showing net change in farm income from harvesting a ratoon rice crop in the
Everglades agricultural area, 1978
Aircraft (twice at $1.5)
Labor (Herb. and insc. appl.)
Miscellaneous (at 10% of above costs)
Interest (at 9% for 3 mo.)
Hauling to dryer
25 cwt. at $9/cwt.
Total A (Added costs)
Fixed costs (Mach. and equip.)
Total B (Added income)
Total of B ($259.80) minus Total of A ($74.27) = $185.53 per acre
.. .. i .. l 'l
Some of them plant rice as a cover crop without harvesting it for grain.
A recent publication  has explored the possibility of fitting one
rice crop into many vegetable production cycles. A partial budget show-
ing net change in income per acre to vegetable growers has been developed
(Table 15). Around $96 per acre must be spent to grow rice as a cover
crop on vegetable land. It is difficult to impute a value to the benefits
obtained by the soil with such a practice. Perhaps farmers are getting
back that money on future crops from improved soil conditions. Never-
theless, the partial budget shows that, by spending an extra $122 per
acre, a net revenue change of about $328 may be obtained. Since harvest-
ing the rice would entail flooding for a longer period of time, benefits
to the soil would be even higher.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Rice was grown for grain with some success in the EAA until the
1950s. The hoja blanca (white leaf) disease forced growers to abandon
commercial production. Vegetable growers have been planting rice as a
cover crop without harvesting it for grain.
In 1977, rice was harvested for the first time in 20 years by a
sugarcane firm. Three growers in early 1978 and two more in mid-1978
have been experimenting with the crop with promising results. Several
other growers intend to get involved in rice production in 1979.
The rice enterprise budget developed shows that it costs about
$215 to grow one acre of rice in the EAA. For a yield of 50 cwt. per
acre, total costs are about $268 per acre. Total net returns per acre
will vary depending on yields and prices. They may range from $20 to
$384 for the one-crop situation. Sugarcane growers may obtain $185
more per acre if a ratoon crop is harvested, under the yield and price
assumed. A partial budget has shown that, by harvesting the grain from
their rice crop, vegetable growers may obtain $328 additional income
Other economic benefits can be listed. An important one would be
that resulting from flooding the soil for a long period of time.
Stabilizing some migratory labor would add to the area's economy since
rice would be grown in the off-season for sugarcane and vegetables. All
Table 15.--Partial budget showing net change in income per acre to vegetable growers from the cover crop-
grown for grain alternatives in the Everglades agricultural area, 1978
Item Cover crop Grown for grain A B
Increased costs Increased receipts
I. Variable costs
Insect., herb., fi
Mach. and equip.e
II. Fixed costs
Machk and equip.
Increased Receipts: 50 cwt. at $9/cwt.
Total of B ($450.00) minus Total of A ($122.24) = $327.76 per acre.
See next page for footnotes.
Footnotes for Table 15
a60 and 85 Ib. respectively, at $0.26/lb.
bNo fertilizer is needed after vegetables for either alternative.
Table 8. Land breaking and one harrow disking have been omitted for both alternatives. For the
cover crop situation, herbicide, fungicide, and insecticide applications have also been omitted.
eTable 9. Land breaking and one harrow disking have been omitted for both alternatives.
Table 10. Draining for herbicide application in the cover crop situation has been omitted.
gAt 10 percent of above costs.
hAt 9 percent for 4 and 6 months, respectively.
Assumes 50cwt. per acre (Table 12).
JFixed costs for the combine and grain carts have been omitted for the cover crop alternative (Table 11).
kNo charge is made to land or the irrigation system for the reasons stated in Table 7.
mill by-products have potential different outlets in the agricultural
activities of the area.
The marketing possibilities appear to be good indeed. By entering
the market early in the season, Florida producers may benefit from
higher prices. The proximity of the area to south Florida and Caribbean
markets enhances the potential of rice for becoming a major crop in the
Public concern over releasing drainage into public waters in the
area has been increasing lately. Perhaps rice fields could serve the
purpose of receiving water drained from other fields when the timing of
draining and weather conditions coincide with the rice growing period.
Some problems will have to be solved. Diseases, birds, water
management, and insects are just a few of them. They will tend to
become more serious as more of the area's land is devoted to rice
production. Research is necessary to help growers deal with these
problems. If they can be tackled, rice may become a major crop in the
agriculture of the area.
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