Rice – Rain, Delays And Complications Stack Up In Push To Finish Planting – AgFax Rice

Photo: ©Debra L Ferguson

Owen Taylor, Editor

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


Rain continues to create problems. Yet again, planting has ground to a halt in much of the Midsouth and areas in southeastern Texas. With the last round of heavy rains, fields went under water in parts of southwest Louisiana.

The earliest fields in the Midsouth are moving towards flood, although that remains a minor part of the expected crop.

Green rings are turning up on more south Louisiana rice.

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Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“We’re all over the board with rice – from some that hasn’t been planted yet to early fields that we’ll start moving to flood next week. In fact, I almost put one field to flood today (5/14) but decided to hold off until next week to let the herbicides do a bit more work.

“One grower said he’ll plant rice up to June 5. He’ll stay with rice partly because soybean prices are so weak. But he’s in the Cache River valley and a lot of those growers have had a tough go, and at least some of that land for rice hasn’t been worked yet.

“Those growers still have rice stubble in the fields where they’ll plant beans. The rain has been doubly hard on them. Every time it rains, the water accumulates under that residue and it stays wet longer. Those guys really need an extended dry spell.”

Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

“Rice is at a standstill. The rain, which started late last week and went into the weekend, dumped 3 to 6 inches across this area, so we’re trying to get water off fields.

“A good north wind is blowing today (5/13), with plenty of sunshine, so things are at least moving back to normal. I imagine we’ll get herbicides and fertilizer out this week where we can and start moving to a flood on our earliest fields.

“You tend to think of rice crops as having a uniform age, more or less, but this crop is in all stages – one field is at fourth leaf, the next one has a single leaf, some hasn’t emerged, some hasn’t been planted. We usually have a crop well on its way in mid-May, but this one is only 60% to 70% planted. Some rivers are rising again and backing out in spots.”

Lance Honeycutt, Sanders, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“I’m guessing that 65% to 70% of my growers’ rice has been planted. Spotty showers fell last night (5/15), from 3 tenths to an inch, and everyone was just on the verge of getting back in the field. Some people, in fact, can work today but others were caught again by enough rain to hold them back until Sunday.

“Those guys, in particular, are really scratching their heads about what to do. Some are leaning towards prevented planting and others think they’ll plant more rice because soybeans won’t pencil out. One unknown is how or whether the new tariff relief funding will be applied to rice. If it’s mainly for soybeans, some people could shift ground to beans. But, again, that’s a huge unknown.

“On the positive side, fields are staying clean where we’ve already planted rice. With the rain, residuals are working well and we’ve been able to spray between rains and keep control going. It’s a nice crop, what we have so far.

“We’ll apply a light shot of fertilizer ahead of the rain forecasted for the weekend and then next week we’ll spray, apply more fertilizer and flood several fields. At the same time, of course, we’re still planting rice.

“About 90% of my corn planting is done. A few guys want to plant some more and a little replanting is needed. Soybeans are a different story. Maybe 5% have been planted, and we sure won’t have any early beans.

“The dicamba application cutoff is May 25 and a lot of guys bought into that system thinking they could spray dicamba once before that cutoff. That’s not going to happen this year. I don’t know to what extent they’ll stay with those varieties or shift to Liberty or 2,4-D technology. To complicate things more, very little bean ground is ready and pigweeds are 6 to 8 inches tall in places.”

Amy Beth Dowdy, ABD Crop Consulting, Dexter, Missouri:

“Traces of rain fell last night (5/15) in Pemiscot County but Dunklin County seemed to miss it. Only about half of my rice has been planted. Where growers will follow rice with rice, they’re dealing with the straw and those fields also are exceptionally wet. So, farmers can’t get in and try to dry up anything.

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“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.

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“On the positive side, a few fields are to the point that growers could put in levees before the next rain and probably go to flood within 10 days. That’s a fairly small portion of the crop, though.

“This crop is really stretched out. Planting progress is still very slow in Tunica County and the north Delta. That’s been the same story for the last 3 weeks through a big part of the Delta. More people are waiting right now than doing anything.”

Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:

“Growers can find limited places to plant in parts of the state but nothing on a wide basis. Rain has continued to delay most progress. The rain last week was supposed to finish on Saturday (5/11) but then some guys got 3 to 4 tenths on Sunday.

“Areas north of Interstate 40 received yet more rain yesterday (5/15). It was somewhat spotty, but a half-inch fell in places. In spots, the total hit 2.5 inches. Plus, small hail dinged up rice in isolated locations.

“If that rain hadn’t come on Sunday night, growers would have been in the field Tuesday afternoon. Where rain fell yesterday, those guys are sidelined again. Certain spots on the prairie missed the rain or most of it, so those farmers got a bit of a reprieve.

“I’ve seen a little planting today and a few levees were being pulled. A limited amount of rice was planted in late March and early April, and some of that is being fertilized and is going to flood. Some growers are a little worried that their rice is too short to take to flood, even if it’s had enough DD50s. I would say go for it unless the rice is super short.

“Press ahead if the rice has 4 to 5 leaves, with 1 or maybe 2 tillers and it’s 5 to 6 inches tall. You ought to be able to apply fertilizer and let the next rain help establish the flood. Yes, the water may be a little deep when you start flooding but the level drops quickly as water soaks into the soil. In the meantime, the roots will find the nitrogen and be ready to take off.

“The worst thing you can do – considering this weather – is to wait until the rice is a little taller or looks a little better. With warm weather, rice that’s gone to flood will grow quickly. As things have been trending, it could be 2 weeks from now before that opportunity rolls around again.

“The earliest rice has the highest yield potential, so you don’t want development to fall behind.

“More calls are coming in about Roundup injury. We had a minimal amount of that in the last couple of years but more seems to be likely this season. People are in a hurry and the rain is complicating everything. But we’ve got to be mindful of this and not hurt ourselves or our neighbors. It’s taken too long to gain stands, so the last thing we need is to set back rice even further.

“A little seedling disease is showing up. A lot of this is in rice planted 6 weeks ago and it took 3 weeks for seedlings to emerge. By then, the fungicidal seed treatments had played out. These pounding rains have been splashing soil on seedlings, which is a recipe for disease. Now that the weather has warmed up, it is obvious which plants were affected. They’ve died and are desiccating now.”

AgFax Rice: Midsouth/Texas is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
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