Arkansas Rice: Planting Progress And The Need To Flood…Now

We’re now officially more than 50% planted, but why does it not feel that way? When we look at planting progress by year on a chart, 2019’s progress is holding tight to 2013 progress, and I can only hope that we see a repeat of that year’s summer conditions and yields.

At this point of the year, we were at 52% in 1985, 41% in 1984, 40% in 1993, 35% in 1993 and 34% in 1991. Since records began in 1981, those are the only years with slower planting progress than in 2019.

Of course, more rain is in the forecast for this weekend (5/18-19) and into next week. These next two systems are supposed to deliver 1 to 2 inches of rain to eastern Arkansas in addition to severe weather, including high winds and possible tornadoes.

This past week brought unanticipated rainfall events to the state, mainly in the northern half of the state. Totals varied –several tenths Sunday night and then anywhere from a half-inch to 2.5 inches on Wednesday night. Some of that included a little hail, as well.

So, the area that has already been the most behind likely received more rain and made the least amount of progress in what mostly was a favorable week through other parts of the state. In certain parts of Arkansas, in fact, rice farmers made great strides towards.

These events, combined with what is expected this weekend and into next week, will likely carry us through the May 25 final planting date for rice in regard to prevented planting. I believe many growers will consider, and should, planting rice into the first week of June.

However, the lack of progress this week – combined with next week’s forecast – causes me to seriously rethink that last acreage projection of 1.1 to 1.2 million acres. The shrill whistling noise you hear is the sound of falling rice acres.

Flood ’Em If You’ve Got ’Em

There is definitely rice out there that needs to go to flood now. Fertilizer has been flown on many of those fields in the past two days and more fertilizer, I hope, is headed towards the plane.

The earliest planted rice has now accumulated enough DD50 units that we should be worried more about its age and less about its size. Rice at the 4- to 5-leaf stage is generally going to be around 6 inches tall. Fertilize and flood up! It’s not too short.

Click on chart to enlarge.

Even with a conventional cascade flood and a large head of water, it’s only going to be somewhat covered for a couple of days at most before that deeper water passes and the rice catches the nitrogen and begins growing out.

The worst thing we can do now is to wait for the rice to look better or taller, then 10 days from now hope for a dry stretch to apply fertilizer. All the while, rice will have lost yield potential.

The accompanying chart gives a general representation of yield decline as preflood N is delayed. This is averaged across multiple cultivars and we’ll dig into the details of that work in the future.

Remember that fertilizer doesn’t count until it’s incorporated by the flood – meaning by the final N date on a DD50 report the fertilizer should be out and the field flooded up.

The Latest

Send press releases to

View All Events

Send press releases to

View All Events