Arkansas Rice: Yield Trends, Estimating Combine Losses

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Yields are rolling in a little more this week. The southern part of the state is much further along overall. From I-40 north, things are really just starting good. Overall progress is a few percentage points off last year at this point, but we’re still holding very steady.

Yields range from a few very low fields up to fields equaling last year, and all points in between. We see indication that yields are improving for some growers as we move into mid- and late-April plantings.

Trends in Stuttgart planting date studies support this, with some cultivars increasing slightly and overall not falling off compared to earlier planting dates. The early planting date at Pine Tree struggled while the later April planting date performed similar to Stuttgart.

This is a unique occurrence since even mid-April is, on average, noticeably lower than earlier dates. This is most likely driven by the mild conditions throughout the summer continuing to provide optimal growing conditions.

The extended forecast continues to be hot, sunny, and dry. This crop is maturing fast – moisture is getting away from many who are seeing a lot of green tissue but the grain is getting very dry. Time to get after it.

Estimating Harvest Loss

Each year, people ask about how to estimate rice yield lost out of the combine. Table 3 (at end of this post) provides the straightforward answer, but it’s not that simple.

The combine doesn’t spread residue (and grain) as widely as the combine header, so simply counting the number of grains in a square foot behind the machine will overestimate loss.

To be more accurate, you really need to count the number of kernels in a strip the width of the combine (see tables at the bottom of this post).

For instance, with a 30-foot header, you would need to count the kernels on the ground in a strip 30 ft long and 4 inches wide (which amounts to 10 square feet). Divide the kernels counted in that strip by 10 to get your number per square foot.

Arkansas Row Crops Radio Podcast

Check out the new episode of our podcast. We’re discussing harvest progress, grain moisture and sodium chlorate in low-moisture rice. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Google Play.


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