RICE COUNTRY, USA – Rice planting along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana is mostly done, and the crop is rapidly progressing. In Texas, conventional rice planting is mainly completed, with the majority of organic fields still to be planted. Overall, the crop looks fairly good, with many fields approaching permanent flood. East of Houston, which normally plants a little later, is about 70 percent planted with recent showers slowing down progress.
In southwest Louisiana, the crop is basically planted although some crawfish ponds are being drained to be planted to late rice. There have been challenges in several fields, with some stand issues due to chinch bugs and seedling disease. Weather conditions in the region have been less than ideal recently, slowing the crop and delaying some herbicide and fertilizer applications. There have been isolated instances of herbicide injury with newer technologies. In north Louisiana, the crop is approximately 20-30 percent planted but a large part of the remainder will likely be planted this week. Many north Louisiana growers are having to replant corn acres after the recent freeze event.
Rice specialists in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri report “normal” planting progress in those states. Dr. Jarrod Hardke, with the University of Arkansas, estimates the state is 40 percent planted, noting that southeast Arkansas has had a few more weather-related challenges, while a few rice farmers in other regions are finished planting. Mississippi is about 25 percent in the ground, according to Dr. Hunter Bowman with Mississippi State University, but he estimates the state will be 50 percent complete by the end of this week. In Missouri, planting is between 40-50 percent complete, with the southern Bootheel pushing 70 percent, according to Dr. Justin Chlapecka with the University of Missouri. All three specialists say up to now, the early crop looks fairly good for the most part.
Florida is about 50 percent planted to date. Early dry conditions have recently changed to excessive rainfall and rice there is currently being water-seeded.
Field work is just getting underway in California. While the excessive rainfall and snowpack this winter has allowed for increased acres compared to last year, recent rains have delayed field preparation.
Most states will see an increase in rice acreage this year compared to last. The exception is west of Houston in Texas, where acreage will decrease due to a shortage of water available from the Lower Colorado River Authority.