Louisiana Rice: Farmers Starting Crop With Near-Perfect Conditions

    Drill seeding rice. Photo: Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter

    The recommended planting window for rice in southwest Louisiana begins March 10 and continues until April 15, while the planting window in northeast Louisiana is April 1 through May 5.

    Research has shown that planting rice in this window provides rice with the highest yield potential in most years. Yields start to decline quickly when planted outside the recommended windows due to an increased potential for high temperatures at flowering and grain fill, increased pressure from diseases such as blast, sheath blight and bacterial panicle blight, and an increase in insect pressure.

    During the first 2 weeks in March, favorable soil conditions in Southwest Louisiana provided an opportunity for a lot of rice to be planted.

    Both drill-seeding and water-seeding were utilized. I would estimate that 70% to 75% of the rice in the Southwest region was planted in this window. Some growers have told me that they have completed planting their rice intentions already.

    Too Much Planting In That Window?

    The one negative of this is that much of this rice will be ripe at the same time at the end of the season.

    On the other end of the spectrum, we do have some growers in the southern region that have been plagued by constant pop-up showers and have not have the opportunity to start drill-seeding yet.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    Rains moved back in the regions around March 15 and have halted much further planting progress since then. Soils here at the Rice Station might be planted again today or tomorrow if we are not hit by a stray shower.

    Higher rainfall totals have plagued central and northeast Louisiana thus far this year. With warmer weather this year, our rice has emerged from warmer soils much quicker and evenly, and our water-seeded rice is growing at a much faster fast rate this year as compared to many previous years.

    This is quite opposite of what we saw last year, when cold, wet soils slowed germination and emergence and caused spotty and uneven rice stands.

    Compared to the historic average for March, highs are running about 10 degrees higher per day. Based on data from March 1 to March 22 in Crowley, we have accumulated 412 heat units (DD-50). Last year we had only accumulated approximately half of that, 207 DD-50 heat units, the first 22 days of March.

    This can explain why our rice is growing much faster this year.

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