“This has been a different kind of year. Usually in the first week of July we’re begging for a rain. Right now, though, we have moisture.”
DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas:
“Fungicides have started going out and a little PD fertilizer is still being applied, too. Rice is starting to head just a bit. So far, I have only one field where the grower is spraying for rice stink bugs.
“Overall, 10% or less of my rice is heading. I do have a few stragglers but that’s kind of the average right now (7/2).
“Cotton is running a little behind but it’s finally turned around and is shaping up. Corn and milo look pretty good and milo is turning color.
“Across our crops, a portion of acres did go to prevented planting. One family operation intended to plant 900 acres of cotton but ended up with only 200. Heavy rains several weeks ago took a toll, too. In one area, rice was up, growing well and looked good. But with those rains, a couple of bayous backed into fields and took out that rice. It’s pretty much been raining ever since then, although it has been fairly calm over the last couple of days. However, more rain is supposed to come off the gulf.”
Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:
“The earliest rice is right on time and heads should be popping out on the Fourth of July, which is normal. On the other end of things, a handful of fields were just planted a week ago (from 7/2).
“The majority of our ‘late’ rice is just going to flood. So, the crop is spread across a big part of the calendar but mostly was planted in distinct chunks of time. When windows suddenly opened, people pushed hard.
“Conditions are now pretty conducive to disease development – primarily blast and sheath blight. Enough breezes are stirring to dry out part of the average canopy but we still have situations and conditions that favor disease. This week, the forecast carries a 40% chance of rain every day, and this is a very unstable weather pattern.
“Yesterday and today, these little bursts of red suddenly appeared on the radar screen, like you’d fired buckshot. You didn’t necessarily see a weather front or system, just unexpected rain with a quarter of an inch here and there. Again, these breezes are helping but we still have lingering moisture from showers.
“With that disease potential, scout for sheath blight and spray as needed. Don’t fall back on automatic treatments. Our threshold is based on the susceptibility of the crop – weather, variety and such – and the percentage of stops where you find sheath blight. But remember that sheath blight is only a concern when it threatens the upper canopy.
“Also, you can find sheath blight in a high percentage of stops but a treatment isn’t warranted as long it stays low. A fungicide’s efficacy lasts a limited time, so delaying a treatment also extends protection later into the season.
“Blast is another thing altogether because we’re taking a preventive approach. So far, very few reports of leaf blast have filtered in. Also, with the earlier planted rice any chance of blast developing is pretty low in fields with no history of the disease and low-risk environments.
“Risks increase, though, where there’s a problem keeping ground flooded. Even this year with all the rain, we still have places where pumps can’t keep up. Risk further increase where adjoining tree lines block air movement and canopies remain wetter longer. That can be compounded when a blast-susceptible variety was planted.
“Be mindful, too, that you may not find leaf blast but could be hit later by neck blast. Some varieties are simply more prone to neck blast than leaf blast, so it can sneak up on you. And when neck blast hits, you can’t do anything about it.
“So, understand what triggers blast – leaf and neck – and weigh your relative risk. Where you have earlier fields at risk, you might slip by with one fungicide application. With later at-risk fields, consider taking an aggressive approach with blast prevention.
“Growers and crop advisors are lining up a good many applications now for false smut and kernel smut, and that’s on yet a different timetable. With smut, you see the biggest bang for your buck by going early. Efficacy steadily declines as rice moves into late boot and the flag leaf is out. Once the boot splits, it’s too late to gain any advantage with a treatment. Optimal timing for smut is before the flag leaf is all the way out – roughly 10 to 14 days before heading.”
Jack Haney, South Arkansas Crop Consulting, Pine Bluff, Arkansas:
“Our earliest rice is at boot and the youngest is going to flood. Overall, our rice is in about 3 different stages. With this last rice, we’re just glad we were able to plant it and take it to flood.
“A bunch of rain fell through here a week ago (from 7/2) and then again this past Sunday, so we had plenty of moisture when we sprayed and the herbicides appear to have worked pretty well.
“It also was enough rain to bring up beans that had been planted up to that point. We’re still planting soybeans this week. We have a good dry run and I think our growers will wrap it up in the next 2 to 3 days. Farmers are rolling out polypipe and starting irrigation where beans are blooming.
“We’re spraying the very first soybean field this year for stink bugs. Mostly, we’re only seeing sub-threshold levels. We’re now waiting for that big July corn earworm moth flight. Usually, we pick up the first worms in beans around July 9 to July 14. Overall, our soybeans range from just being planted to R5.