Harvest has started on a minuscule basis in southwest Louisiana. A few farmers planted limited acreage in mid-February and those fields were ready.
More draining is under way in the coastal rice belt of Texas and Louisiana.
Hurricane Barry caused minimal damage and disruption, based on most reports this week. Heavy rains did cause flooding and put water over rice in certain areas. But the storm’s totals were mostly tolerable and even beneficial in certain cases. Also, winds were well below predicted speeds. Connect in our Also of Note section for a report on related flooding in southwestern Lousiana.
Disease pressure will potentially increase due to the prolonged amount of moisture that Barry did bring. Connect in our Also of Note section to a Mississippi State podcast covering rice disease identification and treatment options.
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M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont:
“Leafhopper damage has become apparent in some rice acreage that also holds crayfish. That’s a tough situation because materials you’d use on the insects would be lethal to crayfish, too. Rice stink bug populations are not as high as last week, but farmers still need to treat if populations exceed threshold.
“In general, the crop looks much better compared to a few weeks ago. We mostly missed the storm (Barry). It rained 2 to 5 inches in places in southeast Texas, maybe more in spots, but only about three-quarters of an inch was measured here at the Beaumont center.”
Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:
“Everyone has been worried about this storm (Barry). It turned into a slow-moving event that has nearly exited the state (as of early evening, 7/16).
“Mostly, rain totals ran 3 to 4 inches, which would have caused huge problems if combined with high wind speeds. But while the forecast called for winds up to 35 mph, that never came to fruition. And the rain fell very slowly. We’d expected heavy and quick tropical amounts, like 5 inches in an hour, but that didn’t happen to any extent.
“In isolated spots, totals ran 6 to 7 inches, maybe more, and low-lying field areas are submerged in those cases. We need to move that water off in less than 7 days where plants are in the reproductive stage. If water is over that rice for more than 10 days, it’s likely a complete loss. Younger rice can stand submergence for much longer.
“Our course, it could have been worse. In places, enough rain may have fallen to overrun or blow out levees, but no one I’ve talked with is reporting major problems like that. Growers who did shut off pumps a couple of days prior to the storm made the right call.
“Enough rain at least fell to spare growers from pumping right away, so that will save a bit of money. On the other hand, this rainfall over several days will set us up for sheath blight. Blast is on the table, as well. But sheath blight, in particular, could run rampant.
“In places, heading was well under way ahead of the storm. It’s unknown how much the rain affected pollination, although in another week we should be able to see any blanking it caused.
“This weather wasn’t a good situation for anyone with young beans. Enough rain fell to back up water on low ends of fields, and when it turns hot, that could scald those plants.”
Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist:
“With the storm (Barry), we got lucky. It rained a while but amounts weren’t overwhelming. Here at Stoneville, a bit over 3 inches fell. The most I’ve heard was 5.5 inches.
“Mainly, we went through extended periods of drizzle that were broken up by hard downpours of short duration, but it didn’t rain hard enough long enough to cause problems. So far, I haven’t heard of any levees blowing out. That’s not to say it didn’t happen somewhere but no one has mentioned that in any conversations this week.
“Also, the wind was minimal compared to what you’d expect with a tropical system. At least at Stoneville, nothing went over 15 mph.
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“Any hit we took would generally be in rice that was flowering and the rain disrupted pollination. Maybe 20% of the crop was flowering, so we will see blanking where flowers were set for pollination when the rain came through.
“The rain should give growers a break on pumping costs or allow guys to catch up where they were having a hard time maintaining floods.
“On the other hand, these conditions will promote disease. With all the cloudy weather and a long duration of leaf wetness, blast had creeped up pretty noticeably in susceptible varieties.
“You should still be okay as long as you can hold it in the leaf blast phase and not let it progress into neck blast. Before the rain, people made a fair number of fungicide applications, particularly in that period from very late boot to 5% heading, which is the timing we recommend for blast applications.
“Still, though, the majority of calls this week have been about blast identification and management, so it’s very much on everyone’s mind.
“A quick reminder: our rice field day here at Stoneville will be on August 8 and start at 3:30 p.m. The event will include a field tour, industry reports and overviews on research projects. A reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres will follow at the Delta Council building.”
Gary Bradshaw, Independent Agronomist, Bradshaw Agricultural Consulting, Richmond, Texas:
“The storm (Barry) had no effect on us whatsoever. We started draining a limited number of fields last Thursday (7/11), although that’s nothing widespread yet.
“I’m about to wind up our rice stink bug (RSB) control program for the season. On average, we sprayed RSB less than 1 time this year across most of our crop. They’ve mostly been in a pattern – they move into a field, reach treatment level, then we spray and they don’t move into the field again. With a number of later fields, we haven’t had to spray at all.
“The first samples may be cut around July 22 to July 23. Most of my clients will try to let moisture ease down to 18% to 19% instead of starting at 20% to 21%. That should make it easier for the facilities to handle their rice.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:
“A small amount of our rice is trying to head. The rice and corn crops aren’t terribly late, in my opinion. That’s not true with cotton and soybeans, unfortunately. We have weed pressure in places but are largely okay.”
Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana:
“(Hurricane) Barry gave us a slow, soaking rain and it was beneficial with the exception of a couple of spots in the extreme northeastern part of the state and in Catahoula and Concordia parishes. I’ve heard reports of 6 to 7 inches of rain in the extreme northeast.
“A limited amount of our rice went down. The winds didn’t get that high and very little of our crop was heading. With the poor planting conditions early in the season, you might find a field or two of heading rice in this part of the state but most of the crop was planted later. Considering the possible outcomes, we rode out the storm in good shape.
“The biggest problem we’ve had is grass and I’ve heard similar reports from Arkansas. Barnyardgrass has been a bear to deal with. We saw escapes from the get-go and have had to make salvage treatments.
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“We haven’t had too many insect problems, although rice stink bugs are showing up where barnyardgrass is bad and heading. They’re sitting on the barnyardgrass and waiting for the rice to head out, so we may be in for a bad RSB year.
“So far, not much disease. We’ve had to treat a field of Thad, a specialty variety susceptible to blast.”
“Rice maturity varies widely, from just recently flooded to just beginning to head. For the majority of the crop, we’re applying fungicides and things are moving along well. The row rice seems to be doing especially well. With this extended wet weather, we’re closely checking for sheath blight.”
“Most of our rice producers fared pretty well when hurricane Barry moved into the state. That includes farmers in both southwestern and northeastern Louisiana. That’s not to say we didn’t have wind damage in certain areas and also flooding in at least one part of the state.
“Where rice was flowering, the wind disturbed pollination, so a bit of storm-related blanking is likely, and grain also was bruised in places. But lodging was minimal. Mostly, we were very fortunate.
“The area that received significant damage was in a narrow band in the south-central part of our rice growing region. It kind of fell in a line from Oberlin to Ville Platte to Bunkie where more than a foot of rain fell and rice went under water to some extent.
“How much the crop was hurt through there will partly depend on how fast growers could get the water off fields. But, again, most of our rice was spared the brunt of the storm.
“In our southwestern parishes, the only rice that would have been affected would be any plants still flowering, but a good deal of those fields are beyond that point. We’re probably just a week away (as of 7/16) from draining most of that rice.
“A small amount of rice, in fact, has already been harvested. No word on yields. That acreage was planted in mid-February. Every year, a handful of farmers plant a bit of rice that early on small acreages before starting into the main part of their crop.”
Hurricane Barry had a minimal effect on Louisiana croplands, but its aftermath left a narrow strip of flooding that will cause damage. Fields in that area have been inaccessible, making it difficult to know how those crops were affected.
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