Arkansas ranks first among rice-producing states, accounting for more than 40 percent of U.S. rice production -- primarily long and medium grain varieties. Rice production is concentrated in the eastern half of the state, stretching from the Louisiana to the Missouri borders. Arkansas rice is known for its versatility, and can be used in a wide variety of cuisines. It is enjoyed in the U.S. and throughout the world.
In the 1800s, growers in the prairie lands of Arkansas were in need of a dependable, profitable crop, and rice became a contender almost by accident, when W. H. Fuller ventured southwest to Louisiana in August of 1896 on a hunting trip. It was there 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 showcases the history of this major center for U.S. rice production.
Arkansas Rice Facts
- Arkansas is the #1 producer of rice in the United States.
- In 2015, Arkansas farmers produced 207,550,200 bushels of rice on 1.286 million acres. That accounted for 49 percent of all the rice produced in the United States. Farmers in Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri account for most of the rest.
- In 1904 William Fuller became one of the first farmers to grow rice successfully on his farm in Arkansas. By 1910 rice production, research and milling were established in the state.
- Each year Arkansas farmers plant an average of 1.3 million acres of rice and harvest over 200 million bushels on 2,752 farms.
- Arkansas farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year.
- Rice is the state’s second-highest-value commodity and its top agricultural export.
- The annual Arkansas rice crop contributes billions to the state’s economy and and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.
For more information on Arkansas rice, visit the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board website.