Arkansas Rice: Pre-Flood Nitrogen – Rain Complicates Timing

    Rice ready for flood. Photo: University of Arkansas

    This is always a fun time of year in the rice world. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, although getting rice to permanent flood is always a victory. Weed control hasn’t been easy. And fertilizing hasn’t been easy. But we’re getting fields there.

    Just today (June 1), we had yet another round of scattered pop-up showers throughout the state all day long. Rainfall totals ranged from a few tenths to a few inches. This means some caught a free flood and others continued with business as usual.

    In some extreme cases nearly 2 inches of rain droped in 20 minutes, while a half-mile away field work was still going and dust was flying.

    The forecast for next week includes somewhat milder temperatures. Rainfall still remains a question, and much of the Delta could use a 7-day break to get affairs in order.

    Keep Pushing Rice Forward With Nitrogen

    Once we pass the final recommended time to apply preflood N, your yield potential is declining if you don’t apply N in some way, shape, form,or fashion. I’m already hearing about fields that should be within 2 weeks of green ring that haven’t had a drop of N. Goodbye top end yield potential.

    I can say all day long that I want you to have a consistent field situation before starting to fertilize. Dry is best, muddy next best, and finally spoon-feeding into standing flood is the least preferred option. But we’re hoping for the field to be a uniform version of one of those.

    When you pass the final recommended time to apply N, stop hoping and start acting. Apply N in some form and get the rice moving – don’t make it want for nitrogen. This N application drives the first yield component – number of tillers. If we miss out on maximizing the number of tillers, we’ve taken away one of our pathways to achieve high yields.

    Too Cold, Too Hot. Does It Average Out For Rice?

    In terms of DD50 unit accumulation, April was the lowest of the past 30 years and May was the highest (See table below). Does that make this an average year so far?

    For some cultivars, that means they may have emerged on May 1 and they are already past the final recommended time to apply preflood nitrogen. Run a DD50 report to keep score of where you are. Go to:

    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