Arkansas Rice: How Much Lodged And What To Do Now?

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

It’s not THAT the wind is blowing, it’s WHAT the wind is blowing. Wind may lean rice, but wind carrying rain is really what gets it down. All things considered, it’s surprising that more rice acres aren’t down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

Estimates last week filed under “way too early to guess” were about 80,000 acres or 10% of rice acres remaining in the field may have been lodged. Now after more observations, it appears that 40,000 acres or 5% or remainin acres are probably lodged. Nobody likes downed rice, but it could have been worse – much worse.

Many farmers have gotten back to harvesting and, overall, most continue to be very happy with yields. It does sound as though south Arkansas will be happier than north Arkansas, based on early estimates, but we still have a long way to go on that.

Milling yields have been variable at times, unfortunately. The inconsistent weather pattern we’ve been in, combined with rainfall, have kept grain moisture elevated, so rice held in the field longer than normal. That may have hur overall head rice yields. However, it’s definitely better than last year and more recent numbers are showing continued improvement.

Harvestable Rice Contacted by Floodwater Cannot Enter Food Channel

Harvestable rice grain that has been submerged or has come into contact with floodwater in any way is considered to be “adulterated” and should not enter human food channels, according to the FDA. FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood-damaged to ensure they do not adulterate “clean” crops. Adulterated, meaning contaminated or impure.

Our recommendations are the same – keep the flood affected crop separate from the clean crop. Work out the details of where the grain is going so that it is kept separate and cannot enter human food channels. We definitely want to avoid contaminating any more grain that what we already have.

I believe there are very few acres this is relevant for but it is worth noting. Read here under Section III if you want to learn more.

Salting Downed Rice

While lodging from Hurricane Harvey has not been as bad as initially feared overall, there is still enough out there to hurt. With that, there have been numerous continued questions about salting rice that is lodged.

To repeat from previous weeks – salt (sodium chlorate) only affects the rice tissue it hits. So, if you salt lodged rice, only the rice on top salt will dry down and what’s underneath will remain green.

If there is a lot of lodging in the field, then you’ll end up with two completely different sets of grain in your hopper at harvest – half higher moisture and half lower moisture. The milling results will probably be very interesting, and not in a good way.

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