Increase reflects higher profitability of the rice sector compared with corn and soybeans.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Italy, the largest rice producer in the EU-28, expects a 3% increase in area planted to rice during the 2016-17 marketing year, according to the Italian Rice Association.

In a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Italy’s rice area was forecast at 234,300 hectares, up from 227,329 hectares in the 2015-16 marketing year. The year-over-year gain reflects the higher profitability of the rice sector compared to that of corn and soybeans, the FAS said.

“Rice cultivation is mostly located in Northern Italy (Piemonte, Lombardia, and Veneto regions) where water is relatively abundant and the rice crop can be raised in flooded fields,” the FAS said. “Approximately 70% of rice varieties grown in Italy are Indica (i.e. Ariete, Drago, Arborio, Baldo, S.Andrea, and Carnaroli), while the remainder are Japonica. Except for rough (unmilled) rice exports and domestic seed sales, virtually all Italian rice is marketed as a whole-kernel milled product.”

The Italian Rice Association has forecast area planted to round grain Japonica rice at 70,800 hectares in 2016-17, up 24% from 2015-16, while area planted to medium grain Japonica is forecast at 9,750 hectares, up 3% from a year ago. Meanwhile, area planted to long grain Japonica is expected to fall 4.5% to 120,150 hectares, while long grain Indica area is expected to decrease 4% to 33,600 hectares.