Rice – Better Planting Weather – The Last Big Push Starts In Midsouth – AgFax

Owen Taylor, Editor

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


Better planting conditions? Hotter weather and fewer chances for rain are in the forecast into the middle of next week.

How much more rice will be planted is an open question. The prevented planting deadline for rice is nearly upon us and some growers will exercise that option. Others will continue planting, according to our contacts this week. Some growers will press planting into the first week of June, we suspect, provided rain doesn’t catch them in a big way.

Plenty of acreage remains under water in the Midsouth from backwater or river flooding. Any of that ground that was intended for rice will eventually be zeroed out from the final crop estimate.

More row rice might be planted in the Midsouth, although that wasn’t the original plan. With lackluster soybean prices, some fields already rowed up for beans will shift to rice. See comments by David Hydrick. But as Jarrod Hardke notes, rains also prevented growers from setting up some land for row rice. They finally gave up, planted flat and will pull levees.

Flooding has started a bit more widely in the Midsouth and more will likely go to flood next week.

In Texas, some PD fertilizer applications are either being lined up or have already started.

On the tariff front, rice will be among the commodities included in the trade aid relief program, it was announced today. Turkey also said it is lowering its retaliatory tariff on imported rice in response to the U.S. reducing tariff’s on Turkish aluminum and steel. Connect to more information in our Links section.

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Wayne Dulaney, Agronomist, Local Seed Co., Clarksdale, Mississippi:

“Some of the early-planted rice has gone to flood or is going now. On our own farm, rice went to flood earlier and it looks super. With all the rain, herbicides remained active and weed control has worked well.

“That said, rice is still being planted. We’re delivering rice seed right now (morning, 5/23) to farmers who still want to plant. Growers in the north Delta will continue planting conventional rice through this week and then hope that some hybrid seed will free up for any planting after that.

“One guy who’s having dirt moved said it probably will be June 10 before he plants those acres. That’s somewhat of the typical approach following the dirt pans, and he said that whatever he makes off the rice will still be better than 30-bushel soybeans. The rice market at least has had a pretty good rally this week.

“Growers will plant through this week and up until the next big rain event, which is in the forecast for Wednesday (5/29).

“A world of rice has yet to be planted in Tunica County, which came within 1,500 acres of edging out Bolivar for the biggest rice county in the state last year. But if you go by how fields look when driving around the north Delta, you’d think this was April 25 or May 1. Based on how much has been planted, we’re a month behind.

“Nobody wants to be planting rice right now, but what are the options? Everyone is disgusted with soybeans.

“However, I am still being asked what I think about planting beans this late. Potentially, you’re looking at a 55 bu/acre irrigated yield. With our seed production in the past, we’ve planted a good bit in mid-May to early June. In certain seasons everything lined up and we hit 65 – but those are the exceptions.

“It’s May 23, so we’re heading into the outskirts of June. Planting beans right now is roughly the equivalent of planting behind wheat, and irrigated doublecrop soybeans can maybe average 50 bu/acre in a normal season. If all the stars line up, you might jump up to 65 or 70. But if things go even slightly wrong, you could drop to 45, maybe less, and I speak from experience.

 “Some people have talked about planting more corn because the market rallied. Someone may try that but I think most growers understand the reality of late corn.

“It rained Saturday night and everyone in the north Delta received an inch, then some got a couple of tenths on Sunday night (5/19). A few people like us got yet another 1.5 inches. Everything planted last week, like soybeans, is under the crust and trying to emerge. We’re running rotary hoes on our soybeans planted on Saturday, trying to gain a stand.”

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

“I don’t have any rice going to flood right now (5/23) but a little in the area is. Once it dries out, we can get fertilizer on and go to flood on a pretty good bit of our rice acreage.

“We’ve maybe planted 70% of our rice, but I can’t say how far people will go on the other 30%. If they have hybrid seed and don’t want to take prevented planting, they will stretch it out to June 1 or a little later. The alternative is to put the seed in cold storage for next year but a lot of guys can’t afford that expense.

“A bunch of rice was planted in messes – flown into ruts and old rice stubble. Or, it was mudded in and Command and Roundup couldn’t go out, so fields grew up. We’ve also been held up where we needed to apply herbicides but rice in adjoining fields was already up and winds kept us from spraying. We have plenty of bad situations.

“On the other hand, some early-planted fields are gorgeous. With the rains, our preemerge herbicides performed really well. We could schedule another preemerge at one to two leaves, and those fields are about as clean as you’d want.

“We are starting to see quite a bit of Gramoxone drift damage, although I haven’t found any Roundup injury yet. I’m not sure how seriously to take the Gramoxone injury. I’ve had rice slammed pretty hard by it that still averaged 200 bu/acre.

“As far as planting goes, we’re fortunate to have whatever we’ve got. All the consultants in the area seem to be in about the same range with planting – 50% to 60% across all crops. We’re scouting one less day per week than usual because that day’s acres haven’t been planted yet.

“Soybean planting is lagging way, way behind. In places, people haven’t planted a single soybean, including folks with substantial acres. A lot of our rice is planted in areas that don’t drain well and plenty of that land is still under water.

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“A number of people are taking soybean land that already was rowed up and planting corn or row rice on it. They may not make a profit like that but they’ll generate gross income to make payments. One grower joked that he had ‘130% of my corn planted,’ meaning he shifted more acres from beans to corn.

“I’ve always tried to keep rotation options open for the next year in terms of what herbicides we used and keeping in mind potential for carryover. This is a year when that will really help because we can transition a lot of fields to a crop other than what we intended to plant.”

Richard Phillips, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, New Madrid, Missouri:

“Rice planting has been delayed due to weather, and maybe 80% of the intended acres have been planted. Weed control in all crops has been good due to the many showers, which activated herbicides.

“More early beans were planted this year than we normally have in our area, and those growers are aiming for big yields.

“We had an inch of rain Saturday and Sunday (5/18-19), but temperatures are higher now, so drying will be faster than it has been.

“Corn acres are way down due to price and weather, but some corn is still being planted because growers at this point don’t want soybeans. We will have two crop seasons this year due to the river being out longer than I have ever seen in my life, and I’m 60-plus years old. It will be at least 2 weeks before anything can be done on that river ground. As of today, May 20, it’s still 2 feet above flood stage.”

Eddy Cates, Cates Agritech Inc., Marion, Arkansas:

“We’re about 75% finished with rice planting and it continues. We have rice ready to be pumped up. Fertilizer and herbicides have gone out. So between rice being planted and going to flood, this crop is really spaced out.

“We got about 1.5 inches of rain yesterday morning (5/22), and we’re wet again. With all of our crops, we’re 55% to 58% planted. Only about 10% of the beans have been planted. Cotton is about 60% planted and corn is about 90% finished. We’re still spot planting a little corn, but we may lose some corn after that rain.

“Among all of our crops, rice is probably the best looking right now, and it’s really clean. We’ve been putting out herbicides and overlaying materials, so we’ve already made two treatments. We’re about to put out another shot before going to flood.

“We’ll probably continue planting rice until June 1, although some planting will stop when we hit the prevented planting date this week, and I expect that a lot of rice acres will be lost to that. This will be a tough year for all of us.”

Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana:

“Rice is all over the place, from still being planted to a small amount of paddy rice that’s just going to flood. After these record spring rains, things drug out. In particular, our heavy clay soils take time to dry out and we have hardly had enough dry weather to plant any of that.

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“Plus, rivers are still up. Depending on the location, from 2 to 6 feet of water are still covering fields in parts of northeast Louisiana. That includes one of our key rice areas.

“We are making headway as much as possible. We had 5 or 6 dry days last week, so farmers covered a good deal of ground, but then it rained 1.5 inches over the weekend (5/18-19). We do have a favorable forecast, though, up through Wednesday or Thursday (5/29-30) of next week.

“The prevented planting date is May 25, and a lot of land that’s still under water will go to that if growers have coverage. At best, 50% of the rice in my parishes have been planted, although that percentage would likely be higher if we zeroed out the acres still under water.

“We at least have excellent soil temperatures now, so rice is rapidly germinating and emerging fast. If there’s a silver lining, that’s it.”

Gary Bradshaw, Independent Agronomist, Bradshaw Agricultural Consulting, Richmond, Texas:

“We’ve just about finished all of our pre-flood work. It’s either been completed or the last few fields are on the scheduled. It’s been extremely windy and that’s made it difficult to get things done.

“Even the ground applicators are having a tough time and one said he’d make the application but couldn’t stand behind his work with this much wind. It’s been at 20-plus mph and was even at 15 mph at daybreak. Fortunately, we got a lot done last week when we caught a little window.

“Overall, 75% of our rice is either at flood or the pumps are running. The rest is mostly being fertilized and sprayed and farmers will begin pumping water as their irrigation capacity allows.

“My oldest rice is scheduled for the PD application early next week.

“This has been one of the roughest weed control years I’ve ever faced. We had small windows to make applications, with a big chance of rain every week, so everyone was in a mad rush. It went on like that for 4 solid weeks. All the applicators were booked up and there weren’t enough hours in the day.

“With all the rain in the fall and winter, land preparation wasn’t that great, and a lot of weeds went to seed last fall. It’s already been a battle and I warned my clients that this would be an expensive year. With some fields, we were able to move things along in a normal sequence but in other cases we had to find alternatives because the normal approaches weren’t fitting.

“Overall, control from Command wasn’t what we’ve seen in the past, and all the weeds overpowered it. If we achieved 80% control, that was still a train wreck. Again, seedbeds weren’t that good, so breakthroughs had to be expected. As the seedbed goes, so goes the year. If it’s a lousy seedbed to start, everything will be tough.

“It began raining around September 1 last year and kept going until mid-March, with hardly any letup. One client who has put in 50 rice crops said he has never seen anything close to that in all those years.”

Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:

“We’ve made a good but limited start at taking fields to flood. That’s on the earlier plantings but we have another wave of planting dates coming up just behind that.

“It rained over the weekend and even on Tuesday in places. A lot of that was hit-or-miss showers. One band from Pine Bluff to Clarendon did get pounded by 5 inches of rain, which blew out a lot of rice levees.

“Some people were back in the field pretty quickly where less rain fell. More levees are being pulled, so we’re making visible progress. The forecast calls for dry conditions, so we may have a decent run of good planting weather. If so, we could be 75% finished by Monday (5/27) with planting the crop we will have.

“If next week is mostly open, we can virtually complete this season’s planting. Of course, we won’t have as much rice acreage as expected before the season started, but we’ll make headway. The weather is supposed to stay dry until the middle to latter part of next week when small showers creep into the forecast.

“We still have fields under water that have already been written off as far as rice goes. All our rivers have backed out and more water is coming down from the north. Those fields with standing water were some of the worst last year in terms of ruts, so who knows how they’ll look when the water finally recedes?

“A lot of rice isn’t super tall but it’s also kind of old and needs to move to flood. People have had to juggle a lot of decisions this year. Some ground that was rowed up for soybeans may be going to row rice instead. Also, some fields that were intended for row rice never got rowed up, so growers will plant and then pull levees. We’re short on time so there have been plenty of twists and turns as far as plans go.

“Herbicide drift calls are increasing, with a lot of the injury I’ve seen due to glyphosate.

“The most recent weather model does call for above-average rain 8 to 14 days out (from 5/23). Farmers usually gripe about having to flush rice, but I think they’d welcome that chance this year if it meant an extended dry period for catching up.”

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