Horizon Ag Rice Harvest Report: Rough Start, Good Yields

    Rains delayed harvest in some areas, but much of the Southern Rice Belt is in full-blown harvest mode. The following regional reports are from our field staff:

    Texas and Louisiana

    In south Louisiana and Texas, growing a rice crop was a challenge from start to finish, but harvest is finally here and there are some unexpected surprises when it comes to yield. In south Louisiana, rain interrupted harvest at times in August and September, causing many farmers to expect no more than an average crop, but overall, they have been pleasantly surprised by exceptional yields and milling. However, the verdict is still out on whether the crop will exceed the record set in 2013.

    Horizon Ag CL111 showed why it has become a very popular variety in south Louisiana with an exceptional performance again in 2014. In addition to excellent first and second crop yield potential, it has high head and totals, and is a preferred variety in domestic and export mills. CL151 acreage increased in 2014 and farmers were rewarded with excellent yields and milling. With both CL111 and CL151, most report that head rice is on the north side of 62%.

    Similar weather conditions were present in Texas, especially as it relates to the rainy harvest season. CL151 was very strong in Texas and most of the yield reports that came from west of Houston were around 200 bushels per acre with some yields near 230 bushels. Reports east of Houston for CL111 are very good as well. Multiple farmers have harvested 190-plus bushels per acre. Like south Louisiana, considering the challenges growers faced this year, yields are a pleasant surprise.

    In north Louisiana, with the weather-delayed rice harvest farmers are finding that both rice and soybeans are maturing at the same time. This has created another challenge for farmers, who are now deciding which crop to harvest at what time. Current weather conditions have some guys renting an additional combine to help get crops out timely. So far, there have been a lot of yields reported in the 180-plus bushel per acre range. In some areas, rice yields have been somewhat erratic, but I have not heard of major failures. With the progress that is being made during these ideal harvesting conditions, most farmers will be on the downhill side of harvest by week’s end.

    Michael Fruge Sales Manager, Texas and Louisiana (832) 260-6193


    Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri

    After a slow start due to scattered rains and slow-maturing rice, combines are wide open and harvest is finally progressing well. The planting window was extended with unseasonably cool temperatures and frequent rains. This is now evident as some growers are either done with harvest or nearing completion, while others are waiting for rice to reach harvest moisture.

    This growing season was anything but normal and rice grain yields have been a mixed bag. Reports I hear from farmers, industry personnel and Extension agents suggest that most varieties and hybrids have been affected by the adverse growing conditions, with many showing variability in yields. It is difficult to point to any single event that has contributed to erratic yield performance. Rice fields harvested after Labor Day, however, seem to be more stable in yield performance than earlier-harvested fields. Earlier-planted rice did encounter slow starts and delayed fertilizer application/flood timing due to the environmental conditions. This certainly cannot be dismissed as a contributing factor, but there were other key weather events at critical times that could affect yield potential.

    CL151 continues to be a workhorse variety and yields have been outstanding, overall, with numerous reports having come in on the positive side of 215 bushels per acre. The most common range of yield reports for CL151 is 180 to 200 bushels per acre. It has once again proven to have the highest yield potential of the commercially-available pure-line rice varieties with top-end yield reports of 230 to 240 bushels per acre. Moderate temperatures during grain fill allowed for test weights to exceed the standard of 45 pounds per bushel. CL151 is susceptible to blast and was infected early in the season in certain areas within northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel. Fortunately, properly-timed fungicide applications at an appropriate rate protected the yield potential that otherwise could have resulted in severe loss due to the environment that fostered blast infection and progression into rotten neck blast.

    CL111 has been a steady performer for the past few years and there have been reports of very high yields with this variety again this season. CL111 typically has not performed at the top-end yield level like CL151, but it provides the industry with high grain quality, very good field tolerance to blast, and earliness. CL111 typically is more responsive to planting date than CL151, which helps explain why we’ve had some yield variability reported in CL111 this year.  As is typical, milling reports that we’ve received on CL111 have been excellent, which results in a very good premium for many farmers.

    CL152 was a popular Clearfield® variety in Mississippi for the second year in a row. The bulk of the yield reports out of Mississippi for CL152 are 170 bushels per acre and above. Similar to CL111, it does not have the top-end yield potential like CL151 but a few reports in the neighborhood of 195 bushels per acre have been reported.

    We’ve been very optimistic about the new medium-grain variety, CL271. Only a few fields have been harvested to date and they have resulted in excellent yields in the 180 to 200 bushels per acre range.  More medium grain will be harvested over the next few weeks.

    Garrett Williams Sales Manager, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri (573) 820-5506


    Rice yields across the Mid-South have been somewhat erratic across commercially-available rice cultivars – in varieties and hybrids. 2014 has become yet another season reminding us that rice production is a biological system prone to biotic and abiotic stresses. Variability in rice crops has been expected.

    Managing nitrogen became difficult for a considerable amount of rice acres, giving producers limited options for nitrogen applications and management. Many N applications were made directly into water, which does not allow young plants with unestablished root systems to efficiently absorb N from the water. Most University research suggests applying N to dry soil and establishing a permanent flood within a week creates the best scenario to achieve maximum yields.

    The first several weeks of rice planting was met head on with more than sufficient rainfalls. Most insecticide seed treatments used today are highly water soluble, leaving rice vulnerable to weevils when the insecticides were no long available because of rainfall. The combination of this and less than ideal N application/management further exacerbated N uptake inefficiencies.

    As if the traditional early-season challenges were not enough, we had to deal with something called the “Polar Vortex” in July. Every two or three weeks, or so, from late June through August the Mid-South received unseasonably cool nighttime temperatures for multiple nights in a row because of the Polar Vortex. Meiosis, which is a doubling of the chromosomes and important to the growth and development of rice, occurs about 2 weeks before rice starts heading, and can be negatively impacted by temperatures below 66 degrees F. The more exposure to temperatures below 66 the more risk you have at causing blanking in rice. Rainfall was yet again an issue during rice heading. Cloudy, rainy days during pollination may also cause blanking.

    2014 has been another year when yield potentials have been affected by glyphosate drift after panicle initiation and differentiation, more commonly referred to as “midseason.” Rice vegetation is rarely impacted when drift occurs after midseason. However, yields can be negatively impacted by drift. Identifying the exact agent or event of drift is extremely difficult, especially during years like this.

    Despite the rough start due to the issues mentioned above, yields across the Rice Belt are trending towards this being a very good harvest. Each of our experimental lines has performed very well and we look forward to the process of making them available to the public in the coming seasons.

    Sunny Bottoms Technical Services Manager (225) 241-5526 and Tim Walker General Manager (901-818-3070)


    The Latest

    Send press releases to

    View All Events

    [ecs-list-events limit="5" key="start date" order="asc"]
    Send press releases to

    View All Events