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Commodity Intelligence Report
November 29, 2017

Caribbean 2017/18 Rice Production: An Active Hurricane Season

The 2017 Caribbean hurricane season (which typically extends from June through November) was more active than usual. Two category 5 hurricanes (the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale) made landfall in the Caribbean and in Florida. Hurricanes Irma (See Figure 1) and Maria pummeled the Caribbean with devastating winds and extensive flooding. Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm when it made landfall in Texas, bypassed the Caribbean to the south and caused little to no damage to the Caribbean Islands. Hurricane Irma, however, caused extensive flooding on Cuba’s northern shore.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria:
Hurricane Irma’s track passed directly through the British Virgin Islands. Haiti and the Dominican Republic were largely spared the devastating impacts suffered by the other Caribbean islands because the storm turned northward after hitting the Virgin Islands, although high winds and rainfall still caused infrastructure damage and power losses. After passing by Hispaniola, Hurricane Irma made landfall on northern Cuba as a category 5 hurricane. Hurricane Irma caused extensive flooding, damage to infrastructure, and was the cause of reported deaths in Cuba. Hurricane Maria brought additional damaging wind and rain to the Dominican Republic, which had already been impacted by Hurricane Irma a few weeks earlier.

Rice in the Caribbean:
Cuba has two main rice seasons. The first season (main season) is planted in March through June and harvested in July through December. The second (lesser producing) season is planted in December through February and harvested in March through August. Prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall, Cuba had begun to harvest the main-season rice crop and harvest is still ongoing. USDA estimates Cuba’s 2017/18 milled rice production at 370,000 metric tons. Most of Cuba’s rice is grown in the southern regions, while the extensive flooding caused by Hurricane Irma was clustered mostly in the north, resulting in overall minimal impacts to the crop (See Figure 2).


September tends to be one of the more rainy months so while the rainfall Cuba received was above-normal, the crops typically receive considerable moisture during this time. Although flooding on Cuba’s northern shore was devastating, rivers and reservoirs received much needed replenishment in southern Sancti Spiritis province as seen in Figure 3.

A decrease in rice production is not expected for Haiti or the Dominican Republic. In both countries the hurricane struck during the planting of the second rice crop, which contributes a proportionally smaller amount to the total production. The planting window extends through September and farmers had sufficient time to re-plant areas that experienced any damage. In Haiti, the first rice season is planted in February through April and harvested in June through September. The second rice season is planted in August through September and harvested in November through December. USDA estimates Haiti milled rice production for 2017/18 at 109,000 metric tons. The first rice season in the Dominican Republic is planted in December through March and harvested in May through August. The second rice season is planted in July through September and harvested in December through January. USDA estimates Dominican Republic milled rice production for 2017/18 at 500,000 metric tons as compared to the five-year average of 514,000 metric tons. Crop assessments following the hurricanes have not yet been published by official sources. For more information contact Katie McGaughey (



Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

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For more information contact Katie McGaughey | | (202) 720-9210
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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