“On top of that, they now have a lot of volunteer rice emerging from last year’s crop. At this point, we’ve got to pull together some burndown programs to clean it up. This will be tricky in places where an adjoining field already has rice up. Thankfully, winds have not been an issue but potential for that is in the back of everyone’s mind.
“In places, volunteer rice is already at fourth to fifth leaf, so farmers will have to go with high rates of glyphosate – plus, aquatics are up and have reached a pretty substantial size. Farmers also will have to run something over that ground to take out the ruts.
“Some growers keep changing their minds about what to plant. When bean prices fell early this week, two growers said they might add 200 acres of rice if the weather straightens out before June. In fact, they still hadn’t planted all the rice they intended. Then we got this unexpected rain and now they’ve said they’re not even sure they’ll plant all the rice they expected to have. It’s like riding a rollercoaster every day.
“We’ve sprayed 4 fields where rice is barely tillering and looks a little yellow. I’ve recommended applying fertilizer and letting the rain flush it in, then dropping the boards and start taking those fields to a shallow flood with the expected rain. From there, we’ll add water as needed.
“None of that will be at a permanent flood until late next week, but the plants should perk up once the fertilizer is in place. We’ll probably do the same with 4 more fields next week.”
Tyler Fitzgerald, AgriLife Agricultural Agent, Jefferson County, Texas:
“About 50% of our rice has been planted. By now (5/16), 90% of the crop would typically have been planted, and organic rice would have accounted for a big part of what was left.
“That’s not the case this year and it’s due to all the rain that’s fallen here since last fall. It hasn’t stopped, either. Heavy rains fell last Thursday (5/9) and the county has pretty much been flooded since then. I don’t know of any ground that could be worked at the moment.
“Water, though, is leaving the fields. If no more rain falls over the weekend, growers can maybe move into the field again on Monday or Tuesday and finish up. A small number of acres were planted in the last week of March and in the first week of April, and that may be getting close to flood, but it’s 1% of the crop at most.”
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:
“We’re dealing with a few scenarios with rice this week in southwest Louisiana. With some fields, growers were able to apply fertilizer on dry ground and flood up those fields at a good time without any issues. That rice looks really nice.
“On the other hand, a lot of growers have had excess water on many of their fields. Some tried to use the expected rain to get to flood a little earlier but part of that rice went under water for a short time. So, plants are stretched out and struggling. It looks kind of ugly but a lot of that rice simply needs nitrogen and good growing conditions.
“Growers finally have taken the water off or have lowered it, so the rice has a chance to recover. In certain cases, growers will pull all the water off and then apply nitrogen on dry ground. Others are lowering the water and will spoon feed the N. We’ve had limited days with good growing conditions but that rice should turn around as the weather improves.
“More reports are coming in about rice hitting green ring, so we want to make sure enough nitrogen goes out on those fields.
“In northeast Louisiana, a lot of fields still have water on them from the last big rain and it’s moving off slowly. More rain is expected there this weekend, so I don’t know when or if those acres will finally be planted. The prevented planting date up there is May 25, I think, so it’s quickly approaching.
“Some of those fields are close to rivers and bayous and tend to be clay soils, so it could take two weeks with no rain before anyone could start planting in those locations. With all that, we may end up with fewer rice acres this year in our northern parishes.”
Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist:
“I received a photo last night (5/15) of the prettiest rice field I’ve seen this season. But another photo showed relift pumps in the adjoining field trying to move water off of it. That says a lot about how this season is going.
“Planters are at least rolling again in some areas.
“The big question now is whether to water-seed rice where fields are still covered over. The first question I’m asking is what was applied as a seed treatment and whether the label allows for water seeding or pre-soaking.
“If you don’t germinate that seed before it’s flown on, you get a lot of movement. Beyond that, we’re not set up to soak seed. People are desperate, and I understand that.
“We’ve also got fields where rice was planted and came up but then more rain fell and those plants sat under water for 7 or 8 days. Growers have been running relifts as hard as they can. But in certain fields, there was no place to pump the water.