Rice: Coastal Yields Still Lagging, Midsouth Draining Widens – AgFax

    Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Rice harvest continues in the coastal belt of Texas and southwest Louisiana. Yields are mostly trending below average.

    Midsouth draining continues. Growers likely will cut a few scattered samples over the next week.

    Insect pressure in the Midsouth remains mixed. In places, rice stink bugs required applications in the first-headed fields but then dispersed as more rice headed. But in other areas, populations are still bouncing around threshold levels.

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    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist:

    “The crop is progressing quite well. Draining started last week in several of the earliest fields and more continued this week. Maybe 10% of our fields are being drained now (8/8).

    “If the weather holds, a few growers will perhaps cut samples late next week. I understand that one sample being cut in this part of the Delta, although the report wasn’t specific about whether it was in Mississippi or some nearby part of Arkansas or Louisiana. Here at Stoneville, we’re 45 minutes or less from both states.

    “Except for the very latest-planted fields, everything is heading. Things are generally quiet except for a few insect issues in row rice and disease issues, mainly blast in the Rex variety. Those blast reports have been relatively widespread and severe enough in some instances to reduce yields significantly.

    “Rex is a robust variety, with strong vigor when it emerges. The only chink in its armor is its susceptibility to blast. These reports about blast aren’t necessarily a surprise. With that early hurricane (Barry) and prolonged damp and cloudy conditions, blast moved up the plant and resulted in neck blast.

    “In many cases, growers actually treated Rex, but blast was aggressive and made it through.”


    Lance Honeycutt, Sanders, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

    “Rice is kind of laid by, for lack of a better way of putting it. We’ve had to deal with a little stink bug activity but not much compared to those forecasts about how heavy stink bug pressure might be. We’re still checking for stink bugs but haven’t sprayed much.

    “I think we’ll drain the first rice next week. The late rice, on the other hand, won’t be heading out until the end of the month. With that part of the crop, we’ll sure be checking stink bugs for a while.

    “In corn, we were in the process of watering for the last time, but then a good rain fell nearly everywhere. With just about all the corn, the starch line is at 50% to 75%, and we’ll wrap up most of the crop this week or next week.

    “With soybeans, we’re moving into the bollworm phase and treatments have gone out around here. These aren’t ugly numbers, but I’m finding worms right at or slightly above threshold. We started spraying bollworms this week and included a fungicide where beans were ready for it. Moth counts are coming up again.

    “This last rain was a blessing, although high winds came with it in places and that flattened beans in spots. I’m also hearing about a few acres of corn breaking and a bit of rice lodging where grass was thick.”


    Amy Beth Dowdy, ABD Crop Consulting, Dexter, Missouri:

    “A half-inch to an inch of rain fell last night (8/7) and it’s still windy and overcast. On one hand, I prefer that to hot and steamy. On the other hand, we don’t need a week of cooler weather that could slow down the rice.

    “We have drained about 6 fields, our super-early plantings, and we’ve quit pumping on 10 to 12 other fields. I recommended holding the water for now because the forecast calls for hot weather this weekend and into early next week. I’m hesitant to take an aggressive approach right now.

    “We’re also running out of the early-planted fields to drain right away. With the majority of our other rice, we’ll wait at least one more week before draining any of that. Also, some later planted hybrid rice received its last fertilizer application last week, and in cases like that we’ll wait a couple of more weeks. But hotter conditions have been moving it along faster than I expected after that last spell of cooler temperatures.

    “A couple of fields may be ready for harvest by August 20. But moisture still might run too high at that point, depending on the weather. We began draining that rice last Thursday (8/1).

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    “In places, you can tell some early fields are moving towards being ready because the birds are working them over.

    “I know people in surrounding counties who want a little more rain on their soybeans, but we’re still wet here. In places, farmers rolled out polypipe for their soybeans but never turned on the pumps. About the time they might have irrigated, it rained again. They also wanted to avoid any risk of drowning out beans in spots.

    “Even in the last week of July, several growers were still spot planting soybeans in low parts of fields to firm up stands. Also, the Mississippi River fell enough that growers went into a flurry of planting on Black Island to put in beans where they couldn’t buy crop insurance. That happened last week. Farmers would have planted more, but for logistical reasons they couldn’t move equipment to all of their fields.


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

    “Draining has started. On our own farm, we’re draining right now (8/8). We probably should have drained some of it last week but couldn’t get around to starting. A few farmers around us are draining, too.

    “We’re maybe 10 days away from anyone cutting the first sample. But with the way planting fell into separate timeframes, it will be another 2 to 3 weeks before anyone begins draining in that second round of planting.

    “I talked with a guy in Tunica County who put out his last midseason shot last week on really late-planted conventional rice. Everything up there went in late, with very little April-planted rice. Mostly, that part of the crop wasn’t seeded until late May and early June.

    “At one time, rice was progressive pretty quickly. With our own crop, I actually thought we’d finish harvest before the end of August, weather permitting. But that last cool spell slowed it down. This isn’t some horrible delay, but it did hold back plants, plus we went through a few days of cloudy weather and spotty thunderstorms.

    “In corn, people have started cutting samples along U.S. 82. A neighbor also brought in a sample. He thought it would run about 25% but it went above 30%. None of my clients have corn at black layer, and none of ours is there yet, either.

    “Soybeans look quite good. Even in the later-planted beans, a lot of plants have 18 to 20 nodes, so yield potential seems promising. In the past, my standard was 17 nodes. But in recent years, we’ve gone well past that. In places last year, we counted 23 to 24 nodes, and those were the best beans we ever cut. In early-planted fields now, we’re finding 22 to 23 nodes and some of our May 25 beans are at 20.

    “Insect pressure in beans has been light and scattered in our area. Where we’re finding bollworms, it’s reasonably predictable – like where the ground flooded and beans never canopied. Moths are laying eggs in those areas. We applied a virus last week and it seems to be working well on low numbers.

    “Hardly any stink bugs have turned up in beans, even though heavy numbers were expected. What little we’ve sprayed stink bugs, other factors were involved – like where a grower disked prevented planting acres and stink bugs jumped into adjoining soybeans.”


    Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

    “My youngest rice is beginning to head and stink bug numbers have fallen off. I’m through with about 50% of the acres I scout. We’ve drained about 40% of the crop, Disease has been very light. Probably 60% of the crop is later than average. We should start cutting samples in 7 to 10 days.”


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

    “About now, rice is usually heading more widely and stink bugs disperse across more fields. But with so much of the crop running late this year, the numbers keep rising. While populations aren’t outrageous, we’re still finding threshold levels, even as more rice heads.

    “In south Arkansas – around McGehee and from Dumas south – some fields are just now into earnest heading, which is extremely late. In other fields, growers are pulling boards. Harvest isn’t far away, and this year it can’t happen fast enough.”


    M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont:

    “Yields so far are running a little below average. That’s the consensus. Stands were irregular and less than ideal due to uneven emergence, so we ended up with variable maturity within fields. Plus, nighttime temperatures went above the norms when rice was flowering, and rain during flowering would affect yields, too.

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    “Overall, rice stink bug populations are about average, although they probably will pick up with sorghum harvest starting. Localized kernel smut outbreaks developed.”


    Dick Ottis, Rice Belt Warehouse, El Campo, Texas:

    “Rice harvest is just getting started really good in this area, which would include Wharton, Matagorda and Jackson Counties. About 20% has been cut, maybe 25% at most. Of the other dryers in our group, we’re perhaps a little ahead in terms of harvest activity.

    “The jury is still out on yields. Some early fields averaged 6,400 to 6,600 lbs/acre wet, which is considerably off what we hope to see early on. Some producers said they knew their first fields wouldn’t be that good, although they expect yields to improve in their later fields. The quality has been very good. Damage is low, and only some slight traces of smut have turned up.”


    Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:

    “Rice harvest is moving along in southwest Louisiana, although it’s been stop-and-go at times due to frequent and scattered afternoon showers.

    “Yields continue to run a little below average for the earlier fields. Growers hope that averages will increase as we move into more of the rice planted somewhat later. A couple of growers indicate that might be the case in their fields, but most are less optimistic.

    “Plenty of people are asking why yields are off this year, but we can’t put our finger on any one factor. What we’re seeing is an accumulated effect from several things that went against us.

    “The season started wet and cold, which led to uneven emergence. That, in turn, left us with different maturation within the same fields, which complicated management decisions all season, even into harvest. On top of that, wet conditions delayed herbicide and preflood fertilizer applications.

    “After all that, the wind and rain from the hurricane (Barry) hit during flowering, resulting in blanking. And more recently, bacterial panicle blight and other diseases developed late, and those further reduced yields in places.

    “This has probably been one of the more challenging years in a long time. As bad as that sounds, it could have been worse. With Barry, the forecast called for heavy rains – upwards of 20 inches in places. That would have put thousands of acres of heading rice underwater. But far less rain fell, so we dodged what could have been a widespread disaster.

    “If you’re looking for anything with a positive glint to it, the ratoon crop typically yields much better after a main crop with below-average yields. The plant still has unused energy that it will throw into second-crop production. Higher ratoon yields won’t offset all the lower main-crop averages, of course, but they could soften the blow a bit.

    “On a somewhat related note, we’re working through an issue with the text messaging system used to gather and distribute the weekly yield reports. As soon as the system is running again, we will crank up the reports for 2019.”

    The new crop harvest will begin to become available over the next 10-14 days which should change the buying dynamic of overseas purchasers.

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