Rice Planting Inches Along In Delta, Heading Starts In Coastal Crop – AgFax

    Young rice plants, pre-flood. ©Debra L Ferguson

    Owen Taylor, Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Rice, sponsored by the Southern rice team of Corteva Agriscience.


    Rice planting hasn’t quite wrapped up in the Midsouth, but part of the remaining acres may never make it out of the sack. Sporadic rain has kept farmers out of the field, especially in the upper Delta. Soils remain wet, especially the heavy clays, and in a few places those fields are still rutted from wet harvest conditions in 2019.

    How much rice farmers finally plant in the Delta partly depends on how far into June they are willing to plant. A drier weather pattern is taking shape, which could open the way for more planting next week. A few growers have resorted to broadcasting seed in areas of Arkansas where drills can’t run this week. See comments by Jarrod Hardke.

    Frustration abounds, especially since rice seems to offer a better return than the other commodity crops grown in the region.

    A limited amount of Delta rice has gone to flood but more pumps will be running next week.

    Heading is underway in the very earliest rice in southwest Louisiana. At least some heads will likely emerge in Texas next week.

    Hail hit parts of southwest Louisiana early this week, inflicting varying degrees of damage on the rice crop. See comments by Dustin Harrell.

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    David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas

    “We’ve pretty much finished planting rice. The cutoff date for prevented planting was May 25. A grower or two might be an exception to that. But if we plant anything now, it mostly will be to finish parts of fields where it rained us out earlier.

    “Of the intended rice acres, we probably planted 75% of what had been expected.

    “We haven’t really flooded any substantial number of rice acres yet, just a few fields at this point. We are trying to run herbicides now to push the earlier planted rice closer to being ready to flood. We might take some rice to flood by the end of the week. But rain is expected tonight (5/26), so next week we will likely start trying to spray, fertilize and flood everything that’s ready.

    “We’ve only had one or two days a week to work, so we’ve pushed really hard when we could. It’s really frustrating to be delayed. This year, rice is where growers can make money, and they’re unable to put in all the rice they want.

    “Probably 60% of our soybeans have been planted. The crop is at three stages – we are planting beans, we have beans emerging, and we have beans up to the point that we’re applying herbicides. We tried to apply dicamba on all the soybeans we could before Monday, which was the last day that was allowed, but it’s been hard to make that happen everywhere it was needed.

    “None of our beans are blooming yet. I did see a patch blooming, but they weren’t mine, and those are the earliest beans I’ve seen.

    “I have Roundup Ready cornfields that are unbelievably grown-up. It’s simply been too wet to spray. Then when it does dry up, the wind blows like crazy, so it’s hard to line up applications.

    “Everybody is farming so many acres now, and we’re trying to cover so much ground. Thank goodness for fast planters – we used to plant corn at 4.5 mph, but now we do it at 10 mph.”


    Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana

    “We’ve mostly finished planting rice. Growers have been trying to plant between rains, but rains also help to reduce flushings to achieve stands

    “A few fields have gone to flood with more to follow soon. The earliest rice I know about was row rice that went in a little over four weeks ago.

    “Rice acreage will increase in the parishes I work. Across all the commodity crops we grow, it was the only bright spot in terms of price stability and what the market offered. Row rice acreage has increased significantly, too. Among farmers who went into prevented planting with corn, some of that land may go into rice.

    “This has been a wet year overall and more challenging than the last two years when we also had too much rain and tough planting conditions. Compared to 2018 and 2019, this year’s planting season has maybe been a little wetter. The storms also have come through more often, so we never had long breaks to catch up.

    “Some soybean planting started in early April in my parishes, and we’re still trying to finish. Maybe 80% to 85% has been planted. The forecast says we’ll move into a little dry spell. If so, we will finish beans then.”


    M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont

    “Our rice still looks good. Some rice is already in boot and will be heading in the first week of June. So, harvest will likely start in our earliest rice in the first to second week of July. That early start should make for a potentially good ratoon crop.

    “Weather gurus predict an active hurricane season this fall. So, early-harvested main crop rice is a good ticket.

    “Some problems have turned up with grass control, which is kind of normal around here. No reports of bad disease pressure, but we will be looking for kernel smut this year. It’s been bad the last few years.”


    Hugh Whitby, KC Consulting, Wynne, Arkansas

    “Growers planted quite a bit of rice at the end of last week. A big part of that was mudded in, thrown out with a spreader truck. It’s not a great approach, but at least farmers planted rice.

    “Of the rice I expected to plant, my clients have planted 95% to 100% of it. Some people did quit planting where they couldn’t work out all the ruts from last fall and spring. As much rain as we’ve had, it would take a solid 10 days of dry weather to have the right conditions for doing that fieldwork and planting. As the forecast looks now (5/27) with more rain coming, that’s not going to happen. Growers in the area will go with prevented planting on at least some rice acreage.

    “This weather has really worked against everyone. On Friday afternoon (5/22), a storm came through parts of three counties with high-speed straight-line winds. The storm blew down 150-year-old trees, damaged a good many homes, took down power lines, and knocked over several pivots. The storm didn’t hit a wide area, but it caused serious damage where it did move through.

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    “But only about an inch of rain fell, then things were kind of ‘dryish’ on Monday. It rained a little on Tuesday and last night, and it’s sprinkling now. It’s hard this spring to figure out what the weather will do.

    “Soybean planting is maybe half to two-thirds finished, and the wheat beans are still a couple of weeks out.”


    Wendell Minson, Bootheel Crop Consultants, Dexter, Missouri

    “Growers made amazing progress with planting. Last Friday (5/22), the forecast said it would rain through the weekend and into the next week, and that brought on a bunch of gloom and doom. All of a sudden, we missed a few rains, and people started planting rice again on Sunday. By Monday, it was like a jailbreak – people were running everywhere. If you weren’t careful, someone might run over you. People were planting rice and cotton, plus fertilizing corn.

    “We still have pockets where the weather wasn’t as favorable. One place I work is still too wet to do anything right now. They haven’t planted a soybean yet and haven’t finished their rice.

    “This general area missed two rains today (5/27). If we can miss a little more rain, several growers can wrap up their rice planting. It’s still a struggle, considering how wet things have been. Two or three of my farmers haven’t planted all the rice they need. Two of my biggest clients are planting like crazy. One will finish, but the other guy may not.

    “At least in my territory, rice acres will be up. People are switching varieties now, going with a shorter-season variety if the seed is available, which seems likely. For the first time in years, companies are carrying an adequate rice seed inventory.

    “Weed control has been good. All the moisture kept herbicides activated, and I think Command helped more than I can ever remember. I did see a couple of train wrecks yesterday in terms of escapes, but we will jump on those with both feet.

    “I have some row rice and paddy rice that could go to flood if I pulled the trigger. But with the row rice, we applied a herbicide last week and maybe will do one more. I rode through some paddy rice today. It was the first time I could get across that field all year. It was so clean, it was scary.

    “Overall, grass isn’t showing much. Nutsedge is more apparent, and that’s due to the wet weather. But with a few exceptions, weed control has been okay.

    “Everyone has beans to plant, so they’re wondering whether to concentrate on the beans or move rice to flood. Some could go to flood this week if growers could spray herbicides, apply fertilizer, and put up levees. But in places, it’s still too wet to pull levees. I think that next week we will see more growers push towards the flood. Compared to average, that’s maybe a week later than when we typically start flooding rice. Any delays trace back to that stretch of cold weather when rice struggled and took so long to emerge.”


    Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley

    “This week, we went through a significant hail storm in part of southwest Louisiana, and it was the first major weather event that potentially will cause some yield loss this year. The hail fell early this week in an area roughly between Fenton and Mowata. That area is basically along the Highway 190 corridor.

    “It beat up the rice pretty badly in places. The effect on yield mostly depends on the stage of the crop in a given field.

    “The hail knocked off all the leaves on some very young rice, but the crown is still alive, and those plants will recover pretty quickly. With rice at green ring to P.D., the hail mostly hit the leaves but didn’t break the growing point to any extent. In that case, the damage will set back the plants a bit, but they should be okay, and we’ll manage them as usual.

    “But where rice was in boot, we can expect yield loss if hail broke that panicle or the growing point.

    “Most of our rice this week is at PD, and I’m receiving the first reports of rice heading. With that, we need to concentrate on disease prevention. Sheath blight has shown up in places, which isn’t surprising now that rice is in the reproductive stage and with all the wet weather in recent weeks.

    “If the forecast holds, a drier weather trend is coming, which should help with potential disease development. I’m seeing some zinc deficiency. Also, stress due to herbicide damage has kept some fields from responding to nitrogen applications. But the bulk of this week’s calls, as you might imagine, have been about hail damage.

    “With a portion of this early-planted rice, harvest could start in mid-July or maybe earlier. I thought that the earlier stretch of cold weather would have slowed plant development. But people are reporting rice heading now, and that’s pretty early.”


    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

    “We’re probably 90% planted and would be 100% if it weren’t for lingering wet areas in the north Delta. Popup showers keep pounding those locations. It’s to the point that some of those fields might not be planted, at least not in rice. A couple of growers might stretch rice planting into June, but I don’t know how far into the month people are willing to go now.

    “Calls are still centered around going to flood, mostly saying that their ground is still a little damp and can they apply preflood fertilizer? I’m also still taking paraquat-drift calls. One instance probably happened last week. It’s bad enough that the farmer may end up replanting, based on a conversation with one of his consultants.

    “Our earliest-planted rice is probably going to flood this week, and some might have gone to flood late last week. The second round of planting isn’t far behind. With good temperatures over the last week, it caught up.

    “People are still trying to farm around popup showers, but the weather remains sporadic. People are catching rain where they don’t need it or remain dry where they desperately want rain. Or, way too much rain falls at the worst possible time. A grower in Humphreys County was ready to flush or flood several fields and had built his levees. Just before he started, four inches of rain fell. The rain didn’t blow out any levees, but it came close.”


    Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

    “The crop looks so much better now that we have consistently warm temperatures and sunshine popping in and out. This does put us in that period when early-season problems turn up, including drift complaints.

    “Growers are trying to take care of things and are dodging rains in the process. We’re mostly planted. NASS on Tuesday estimated that Arkansas was at 85%, and I think that’s pretty accurate. Planting will continue for another week or so.

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    “Where people are planting now, it tends to be in areas where too much rain fell for too long, so the ground is still wet. They’re slinging in rice any way they can, either running a spreader truck or flying it on where the ground is still too wet. Some of the seed is going on ground that’s muddy, at best, or maybe water is standing in places. They’re doing whatever they can to finish some of these last acres.

    “Based on the forecast, we’ll move into drier conditions, so any of that late rice planted in June will likely be drilled in.

    “With this late push, what will be that final acreage total for Arkansas? South of Interstate 40, farmers have pretty much planted all the rice they’ll have in 2020. North of the interstate – especially from Jonesboro north – conditions have been far wetter. Some amount of that acreage will go into prevented planting, I expect. It’s simply too wet, and it won’t dry up anytime soon.

    “Of that 15% not planted yet, most of it is in those northern counties, and that’s where we’re seeing farmers make the late push.

    “Some of our very earliest rice has gone to flood. But even with rice planted somewhat later, a significant portion is ready to go to flood this week and next week. With drier weather next week, farmers can apply preflood nitrogen on dry ground before they flood. A large percentage of our acres will be at that point.

    “Farmers are hesitating to flood many fields because they don’t think the rice is tall enough. Cold weather held back growth, yet these plants have four or five leaves and will grow fast once you flood the fields and the plants tap into nitrogen. In planting date studies, we’ve seen plants like that double in height faster than you’d think.

    “Many of the calls this week have been from those people who broadcast seeds in questionable conditions. They hadn’t pulled levees to manage moisture, and too much of this seed was flown onto mud. Without rain right away, hotter weather and sunlight quickly dried up the ground, and the seeds were lying on the surface. You’ll have to incorporate seed in that situation and put them into moisture if you hope to gain a viable stand. If you don’t act, you probably will have to replant rice or move on to something else.”


    Gary Bradshaw, Independent Agronomist, Bradshaw Agricultural Consulting, Richmond, Texas

    “We’ve been applying midseason fertilizer on varieties for about the past week (from 5/28). We’re starting to apply fungicides and are scheduling boot applications on hybrids, which will begin the first part of next week.

    “Three different rain events developed in the past four days. Fortunately, they came in the evening or at night, so we had pretty nice days. Temperatures were good, and rice wasn’t sitting under cloudy skies all day. The rain did make a mess. Field roads are muddy, and you can’t get around easily.

    “The forecast calls for improving conditions, with lower rain chances starting tomorrow and continuing into next week. Rains are nice, and farmers like them because they cut down on pumping, But they also make it hard to get things done.

    “Some of the furthest along fields are in the boot with some flag leaves fully emerged. I expect to see heads emerging toward the end of next week.”

    AgFax Rice: Midsouth/Texas is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
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