Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:
“After all the rain this year, it’s dry enough now that we need a rain. That may sound like a sick joke but it’s true. The wind this year has been ferocious and it’s drying things out. That’s kind of a ‘good news/bad news’ scenario this year. When it did rain, the wind dried up fields fast enough that we could catch those brief planting windows before the next front came through. But the wind also makes it a battle to apply herbicides.
“We have now had an extended 6-day window without appreciable rainfall but the wind has still been going at 15 mph. That’s left us with bone-dry conditions in the upper soil layer, so the ground is cracking and rice is desiccating. It’s also triggered salt issues in areas where we don’t expect that.
“So on a lot of acres, we need to start flushing if we don’t receive enough rain to soften the soil and minimize stress.
“USDA’s survey gave us a nice jump in planting progress, and we’re at 80% planted. That 80% — it needs to be noted – is the percentage of rice that people on the survey list believe has been planted of what growers intend to plant now, not the number of intended rice acres that were estimated in March before planting started.
“The forecast calls for a chance of rain tonight (5/28). That front may not drop a lot of rain but it could somewhat lower temperatures, which could be a benefit right now. Also, the wind velocity is supposed to decrease, which will help everyone catch up on fertilizer and herbicide ahead of taking fields to flood.
“Without a rain at this point, it will be more difficult to establish a flood. Also, rice in these later fields has a shallower-than-normal root system because the roots haven’t had to grow deeper to find moisture. But the top layer of soil has suddenly dried out and those plants don’t have roots running deep enough to tap into the moisture below them.
“I’ve spent most of today looking at sickly rice and that accounts for a lot of it. Secondarily, the roots can’t connect to nutrients, so we’re seeing signs of deficiency. It’s not that the soil, itself, lacks key nutrients but the roots aren’t actively collecting any of it.
“I can’t emphasize enough the need to minimize herbicide drift. I’ve seen some instances of damage where labeled rates were used and everything was seemingly done right but the wind didn’t give up.”
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:
“Rice is moving along very quickly in southwest Louisiana. I’ve had several calls about what to do with rice that only had a starter shot of fertilizer and now is almost at green ring. They waited so long without applying nitrogen that those fields already have lost a lot of yield potential.
“At this point, you still should get the full amount of nitrogen out because you don’t want to limit yield potential any more than already is the case. But you’ll need to take a different approach now. Split it into two applications that are 7 to 10 days apart. Don’t reduce the amount of N but don’t put it all at once, either.
“We’ve had good growing conditions this week and a lot of rice is at green ring or nearly to it. We still have some ugly rice out there that’s flooded and stressed. Overall, we won’t break any records this year. Too many things worked against us – wet soils early, uneven emergence in cold soils, too much wind to apply herbicides on time and too wet to apply nitrogen when needed.
“All that cascades through the season and we will be running behind normal on one thing or another all the way through harvest. If I can point to one positive thing, there’s no disease at this time.
“Some rice is still being planted in northeast Louisiana.
“A reminder: a number of local rice field days are coming up. On June 11 we’ll have the Vermilion Parish rice field day at the Lounsberry Farm east of Lake Arthur on Louisiana 14, starting at 4 p.m. followed by supper at the Klondike Fire Station. And on June 12, the Acadia Parish rice field day will be held at the AgCenter Rice Research Station’s South Farm starting at 8:30 a.m.”
Hugh Whitby, KC Consulting, Wynne, Arkansas:
“A few people are still planting rice but close to a third of our crop has gone to flood or is approaching it, and some fields actually went to flood last week. The rest of this crop is staggered out and a lot of it probably won’t be ready for a