“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.