The early rice harvest happening in Arkansas fields is a good sign for waterfowl habitat for this coming season (which we now know starts Nov. 20).

So far, farmers are pulling an acceptable yield of good quality, according to the Associated Press. This, despite the intense heat farmlands have endured this summer.

The USDA reported earlier that Arkansas' 2010 rice acres set a record. The planted acreage is estimated at 1.681 million, up 13 percent from last year's 1.486 million. The 1.681 million acres are also 38,000 over the previous record of 1.643 million in 2005.

All that increased production is good for waterfowl habitat, because waste grain in the fields from rice production is a major food source for puddle ducks  -- mallards, pintails, teal, gadwalls -- as well as the invertebrates and other creatures that subsist there.

And the better the rice yield and the better the price, the more inclined farmers are to plant more of it.

A similar situation happened with corn. Last year, with cotton prices so low, farmers opted to plant corn -- a key ingredient for duck habitats.

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Arkansas Rice Crop Looks Good As Early Harvest Begins - Associated Press via ArkansasBusiness.com