AgFax Rice: More Rain Delays, Tough Decisions Ahead In Midsouth

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    More rain has put planting on hold again in the Midsouth. The rain mostly started on Wednesday and lapped into Thursday. More rain is in the forecast through Sunday in parts of the Delta states. If the forecast holds, it could be the middle of next week before anyone thinks about getting in the field again.

    How late farmers will plant remains the big question. Prevented planting claims will be filed in at least
    some cases, especially where fields are still covered by water. But farmers also are weighing whether to go with a catch crop of lack-luster soybeans or stay with rice, albeit planted late.

    Aerial seeding is being kicked around as an option, which happens in any year when planting stalls out due to excessive rain and flooding. See comments by Jarrod Hardke.

    Texas and southwest Louisiana also have been inundated. The coastal belt crop is far enough along that more rice has gone to flood. The first instance of green ring was reported in southwest Louisiana. See comments by Dustin Harrell and DeWayne Dopslauf.

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    Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

    “We’re probably 75% finished with rice planting. The first of my rice was planted in late March. That rice took a month to come up and it’s been kind of a struggle to deal with it.

    “Some of my rice is going to flood today (5/7). It’s on zero-grade land and we’re kind of pushing it. The Tensas River is so high that we can’t pump out of it because the power units would be under water if farmers hadn’t moved them. The water for flooding will come from a reservoir that holds enough for one round of pumping. Rain is in the forecast, too.

    “My rice acres will be about the same as last year.”

    Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:

    “Quite a bit of our rice is up, with some at the 2-leaf stage. Herbicides are going out.

    “Planting is about to wind down. The forecast calls for heavy rains in the second half of the week. I have growers who will plant rice tomorrow (5/8) in front of this rain and that will be it for the year. Some will take prevented planting insurance on a bunch of ground. In those cases, water is still in the fields in the bottoms.”

    Scott Holder, Helena Chemical Co., Cleveland, Mississippi:

    “We got 5 inches of rain last night (5/8), maybe a little more in spots. It rained 1 to 1.5 inches last Thursday, so we’ve had 6.5 to 7 inches in a week. That rain last Thursday was needed, but this week’s rain is a whole different story.

    “With our rice, we’re probably 75% to 80% planted. A little is left, mostly where people are moving dirt or have a field or two to go. One grower would have started last week but didn’t have enough to wrap it all up before the end of the week, so he held off.

    “Fortunately, we don’t lack a lot and are in decent shape. It took 3 weeks for our first rice to come out of the ground but it looks good now and is starting to grow. Once we’re past this round of weather, we’ll be looking at putting a flood on some of it.

    “Our rice acres are flat to slightly down. We have more corn, fewer soybeans and a little more cotton.”

    Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:

    “It’s rained again. Imagine that? We have made a little progress on planting. USDA has us at 46% planted, although that’s maybe more like 50% now (5/9), but there will be virtually nothing to report this week.

    “Plenty of calls are coming in from people trying to find various ways to water seed rice. They’re looking at what I call ‘opportunistic’ water seeding – a lot of water is covering fields, so why not fly seed into it? In the right situation, that can succeed but there are important nuances.

    “The first is whether the seed treatment you’ve got can be legally flown on. Beyond that, does the label for the treatment allow you to pre-soak the seed? Those are huge questions.

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    “Beyond that, what kind of shape was the seedbed in before the water covered it?

    “Also, you’ve got to take weeds into account if you’re going by air. In several cases, people flew seed onto dry ground ahead of the rain, going with the idea that the rain would sprout the seed and bring things along to a stand. But they didn’t get a herbicide on, and small grass already was in those fields. There’s not much you can do about that now. There might have been grass on that ground that already was too big for herbicides to take out.

    “By the time the rice is big enough to safely apply a herbicide, some of that initial grass also might be too big to control. You still have to start clean. That’s the bottom line.

    “Water seeding is an option in limited situations at this point. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for the next dry period and hope the weather pattern changes.

    “Obviously, it’s getting late. With the rainfall we’ve just received and more coming this weekend, everything will be further delayed. One positive point is that the weather has been warmer and soils have been drying faster than they would in early April.

    “A week ago, people started asking questions like, what rice do you like or recommend after May 15? Those growers were already looking at the forecast and figured it would be mid-May before they might be able to get in the field again.

    “Obviously, we have to take into account that yields are reduced, on average, the later you plant. But in a given year, that might not be the case or yields might not be down by much. It’s all about averages, so who knows how a given crop will turn out if planted late.

    “As far as what to plant after May 15, hybrids tend to do better. Also, Jupiter, a medium grain, and Diamond, a long grain, tend to do better in late plantings. The same goes for Clearfield 153, which has a good disease package and standability. Keep in mind that it’s a semi-dwarf variety and you’ll need to stay on a tight schedule with fertilizer and other management points. If you’re delayed on fertilizer applications, you could lose some yield potential with it.

    “Diamond and Jupiter are a little longer season, but that might be a benefit in planting later. You’ll have more time to get things like fertilizer applications done on a timely basis. If you’re planting in mid-May, you’re likely starting with warmer temperatures, which will give fields a better and more consistent start.

    “Even in mild May conditions, those DD50s can rapidly accumulate and rice might grow faster than you expect. So, take that into account when judging when to apply nitrogen and take late fields to flood.

    “I can’t say what the best option is for everyone who’s in a tight spot right now. Every field is a different situation. Soybean prices sure don’t make that an attractive alternative. We may, in fact, plant more rice than expected.”

    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist:

    “I’m not sure how much rain we got but it was multiple inches. Everyone at the station (Stoneville) said they had to drive around water at some point to get to work today (5/9).

    “Early on, all the streets in Leland were under water and the streets in downtown Greenville were still under water later in the morning. In this immediate area, 4 to 6 inches probably fell.

    “Yesterday, we looked at a lot of paraquat drift damage and seedling disease on rice and people already were asking about what to do with all the water the forecast said we’d get. A lot of that rice already was struggling, so farmers were concerned about the effect that flooding could have. That will depend on how quickly the water moves off.

    “We’re getting close to the prevented planting date at the end of May, and I’ve felt like we might lose some rice at that point. On the other hand, the market for soybeans is down so much that people would have to think twice about shifting to beans.

    “USDA says we’re 30% planted, but that seems high. Outside of Bolivar County, not much has been planted in the north Delta. Honestly, though, it’s hard for anyone to put a finger on a number right now. With all this rain – both the rain that’s fallen and more in the forecast – our total crop in Mississippi could be closer to 100,000 acres than the original projection of 150,000. We’ll see.”

    Jack Haney, South Arkansas Crop Consulting, Pine Bluff, Arkansas:

    “We just got another 2 to 3 inches of rain (5/9), although it really hasn’t quit raining here since last August. At this rate, it will be the middle of next week before we can get in the field again if it doesn’t rain any more.

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    “We’re not more than 15% planted. It’s a terrible situation here. We have a lot of low ground with heavy clay and it’s not drying fast enough to get in there before it rains again.

    “Where we have planted, my earliest is at the 2- to 3-leaf stage, but we don’t have much of that. The last rice that was probably planted was spiking through when I checked it this week. Again, though, we don’t have much of that.

    “My growers traditionally plant a lot of hybrids and we’ll try to plant up to the end of the month, then step back and decide what to do next. If a grower doesn’t plant beans, he may take prevented planting.

    “A substantial amount of corn in the area had to be replanted and we still have a little left to replant. The latest-planted corn was spiking through this morning. Maybe 100 acres are left to be planted but it’s been too wet to finish. All of the beans that have been planted are up and look good. We’ll be running in earnest on bean planting once it dries up again. We’ve been in a wet hole.”

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

    “Last week I talked about growers getting fertilizer and herbicides out before all the expected rain, then go to flood, and that’s what people did on a lot of acres.

    “Not everyone was able to do that. In some cases, growers looked at the forecast and knew it would rain enough to take them to flood, but they wouldn’t have time to apply fertilizer. Plus, they knew it would rain enough that it probably would be a while before the ground was dry enough to get in the field again. So, they went to flood, too, but will have to spoon feed nitrogen on those fields.

    “It’s rained a lot in the last couple of days (from 5/9), and the expectation is for 4 to 7 inches today, based on weather notifications on my phone. A lot of it so far was hard rain and it’s steadily raining now (late afternoon).

    “The system has stalled. It rained yesterday, and there’s potential for flooding along the Interstate 10 corridor. More rain is in the forecast for tomorrow and Saturday. I just hope we don’t have flooding over the rice, but we’ll deal with that if it happens.

    “A consultant told me yesterday that he already had found green ring in some Mermentau planted in the second week of March. That’s surprising. Most of our rice is in early tillering, with a flood established on a lot of fields where we didn’t want it.

    “Overall, the rice has moved a lot in the last week. We have some good looking rice out there, and much of that has to do with warmer temperatures and nitrogen applications.”

    DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas:

    “We’re finished planting rice on the west side of Houston. Herbicides and fertilizer have been going out. Since the weekend, it’s rained 8 to 9 inches in places and we’re expecting more. We’ll have to wait and see how badly these levees were messed up.

    “In a few places, like down along the coast, it didn’t rain. On the east side of Houston around Beaumont, people were still planting on Monday and Tuesday. One grower who’ll have 800 to 900 acres of rice was just about to kick off planting, then got caught by the rain Tuesday night.

    “I don’t have any word yet (late afternoon, 5/9) about how much rain fell over there. A third of the rice seed those growers booked is still in the warehouse at Winnie.

    “It’s like two different worlds. On the west side, we’ve fertilized 3-leaf rice and a little early rice will be pushed to flood in the next week or so – depending on how all this rain affects things. In places, growers may have to repull levees or patch them with a backhoe.”

    AgFax Rice: Midsouth/Texas is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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