Rice – Midsouth Waiting For Opening, More Coastal Rice Heads To Flood – AgFax Rice

Seedling emerged rice. Photo: LSU AgCenter

 

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Owen Taylor, Editor

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

OVERVIEW

Midsouth rice planting has mainly progressed in localized areas that missed all or most of the recent rains. Mostly, this seems to be a repeat of 2019’s weather and delays.

More rice is going to flood in Texas and southwest Louisiana.

 

ON THE LABOR FRONT

The pandemic has affected farm labor availability, both in positive and negative ways, we’re told.

One of our contacts this week said that a client had received numerous calls from people seeking work. Some were former employees who had taken jobs in town but had been laid off.

The farmer found himself in the unusual position of having enough people to drive all his tractors, plus man the operation’s shop.

On the other hand, we also are hearing that travel restrictions and visa issues have waylaid at least some seasonal foreign workers who farmers expected to be on hand by now. In one case, a farmer contracted for four South African workers but only one made it to the Delta before things locked up.

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CROP REPORTS

Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana

“I think we’ll have an average number of rice acres, and that acreage is becoming more tied to crawfish production. Some row rice has been planted, and those acres aren’t connected to crawfish production. The row rice that has been planted looks good. We planted just a little row rice in 2019, but this year I would say that close to 10% of our rice crop will be on rows.

“Sugarcane acres have been steadily increasing. For me, it’s probably going to level off because the mills will reach a point where they can’t take anymore.

“I think about 40% of my soybean acres have been planted. That includes the acres on sugarcane ground, which are early maturing varieties. The soybeans that have been planted range from just planted to V2.”

 

Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana

“We’ve mostly finished planting rice, and it’s coming up. We’re seeing a big expansion of row rice acres this year. Most everybody has finished planting their row rice, but plants have developed slowly with all the cold weather. That’s especially the case with April-planted rice.

“The shift to row rice is pretty remarkable, and some rice hasn’t been planted yet. This transition is mainly due to the ease of production. With row rice, growers don’t have to throw up levees, hold floods and such. Some of my guys kept rows from last year, and its suitable dirt for row rice, so they’re choosing to plant rice in those fields instead of something else. In addition to the convenience of row rice, rice may cashflow slightly better this year than soybeans.

“Some of our beans are putting on a trifoliate but a bunch are still in the bag. Luckily, we were able to get a portion of our ground prepared for soybeans, and a good number of beans are already in the ground. None of my cotton has been planted yet, but we’re going to have less cotton than we did in 2019.

“My corn is starting to come up today (4/21) Most of it is between emergence and growth stage V7. We really had a good run and planted and fertilized a big number of acres. Our herbicide application went out right before Easter. The cool snap came through, and corn growth slowed. But that has been about the only issue we’ve had with corn. Some of the herbicides did slightly ding up corn.

“We’ve got our corn crop in the ground and are in really good shape south of I-20. However, north of I-20, it’s a mess. We planted those fields wet, and they’ve been wet ever since then. The corn stands aren’t perfect, but they’re good enough. We are behind a little.

“So far, we’ve scraped by with decent weather. Of course, we also have had cold stretches, rain, hail, tornadoes and everything else, but that’s just a typical spring for us. The tornadoes on Easter Sunday (4/12) tore up maybe eight pivots in West Carroll Parish. Pivots seem to be like magnets to tornados.”

 

Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas

“My rice growers range anywhere from 1% planted to 75% planted (as of 4/21), and they are about 50% to 75% finished with corn. Plenty of guys are still into field work where they couldn’t run earlier.

“I don’t know how much row rice we’ll finally have this year, but every grower seems to be planting at least some of it. The rice market is strong compared to other commodities, and that may be taking some land away from soybeans, too, and farmers are planting row rice on the old beds.

“Row rice was big last year but will be even bigger this year. We had enough success with it that I’m comfortable recommending it to growers. It comes with its own set of challenges just like everything else. It costs a little more to produce but it also saves water and is easier on the ground.

“Rains this spring are really patchy compared to the wet weather in 2019. Last year, heavy rains wiped out the area at times, but storms this year tend to be more isolated, so we can find dry places to work. It still varies. Some guys are doing really well, but others received more rain and are really struggling to get things done.

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“We’ve planted a few acres of soybeans, but we probably aren’t even up to 10% yet. Where growers planted rice early last spring, that part of the crop came out soon enough that farmers had time to work up the ground last year. That allowed them to plant soybeans pretty quickly in those fields. But in plenty of places, farmers are still trying to disk up last year’s rice fields.”

 

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

“Plenty of rice is going to flood this week. So, compared to last year we are ahead. It’s been cool. Consultant Randy Waligura reports from the Garwood area that the emerged rice is showing cold and wind injury. But, it should recover with warmer weather.

“Consultant Weldon Nanson in the Matagorda County area reports rice drilled into moisture looks good. But he also said that some rice that was flushed is not doing as well. Following the flush, it rained, which prevented fields from draining quickly.”

 

Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

“Not much to report (on 4/17) except that it’s wet, wet, wet. Along with the rain, it’s been cold. Maybe people can return to the field on Thursday or Friday (4/23-24). At the most, we’ve planted 10,000 acres of rice in the state, perhaps 15,000. It’s nothing widespread. People jumped in fields when they caught little weather breaks.

“That Sunday night storm dumped 1.8 inches of rain in this immediate area. Wind gusts are hitting 25 mph today (4/21), with a fairly constant speed of 10 mph. That will help dry up the soil, but we need warmer temperatures to move along that process.

“How rice acreage will finally shake out is still an open question. USDA forecasts 150,000 acres for Mississippi. I think we’ll hit that or maybe more, but a lot depends on how long the wet weather lasts.

“With rice prices where they are, people who haven’t been involved with the crop are interested in planting some this year. That’s based on several calls I’ve received. Some of these folks grew rice in the past but then dropped out of the crop after 2011 when that intense round of heat hurt yields and pushed planty of people out of rice. Now, they’re thinking they might give it another shot.

“I suspect that we could see 20,000 acres planted by folks like that. That’s based on the ‘extra talk’ out there. When you look at commodity prices, rice pencils out well compared to everything else.

“Last year, we planted rice slower than we had in 10 years, but this year it will drag out even farther, I think. We’re not out of the optimum planting window yet, and farmers can still plant rice really fast. We have about 1.5 weeks left to plant within that window. If we push much past that window, some acres may shift to soybeans.

“Some late acreage also may go into row rice if fields are set up for it. For 2020, I’m estimating that 10% to 12% of our acreage is slated for row-rice production – 15,000 to 18,000 if everything works out.”

  

Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

“As of Monday (4/20), we’ve caught up to where we were with planting at the same point in 2019. Considering how slow 2019’s season started, that’s still not saying much. More of the state caught varying amounts of rain again on Sunday (4/19).

“In places, very little rain fell, and a bunch of those guys were running Tuesday morning (4/21). Some missed rain altogether and kept going. A few growers told me they’re actually finished or are close to wrapping it up. But on the other extreme, many farmers have planted zero to 10% of their expected rice acreage.

“People are now looking for dry spots where they can get anything done, and I’ve heard a couple of mentions of tractors getting stuck. Maybe conditions will be better tomorrow. The forecast includes a pretty good chance for rain and storms tomorrow (4/22), with some chance of hail, although hardly any rice is up. More rain fell on Wednesday night and put a stop to most of the state.

“Past that, the extended forecast seemed a bit more optimistic a few days ago, but now it’s calling for rain on Friday night and again next week. We’re hoping for a longer run.

“People tell me that a lot of corn is being pushed out of the plan now because it’s too late to plant. The crop insurance final plant date for corn is April 25 for south Arkansas and May 1 for north Arkansas.

“The upside to all the rain has been that it keeps herbicides activated.

“It may sound strange with all the rain, but flushing might be necessary in places. A good portion of the land being worked right now will be planted right away, so the soil will be rather loose. If it rains, that will seal over the soil and seedling can’t push through. I’m hoping for timely rains to bring rice up, but flushing may be the only option in certain cases.

“Some rice that’s just emerging is showing cold-weather symptoms, with that white banding where the soil surface was close to freezing as the seedlings emerged.”

 

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

“The weather has turned around and temperatures are warmer. That round of wind and cold temperatures damaged a lot of rice, but it’s growing a new leaf now and coming out of the injury with these improved conditions.

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“Pre-flood fertilizer has been going out on a good deal of rice in southwest Louisiana. The timing is really good because we’re expecting rain on Wednesday and Thursday (4/22-23). Between all the wind and warmer weather, soils are turning dry pretty quickly, so it’s time to move more of this rice to flood.

“Brown spot has turned up as a result of the wind and cold damage. Mainly, the leaves begin to yellow, and it’s a disease that typically develops when plants are under stress. No fungicide options are available, and the only real cure is to determine what caused the stress, fix that if you can and then let the rice grow out of it.

“In mid- to late-season rice, low nitrogen levels might bring it on. But right now, this is a reaction to the wind and cold temperatures. If rice is beginning to tiller and needs nitrogen, that can be part of it. But now that we’re putting N on the rice and pumping water, those plants should jump pretty quickly.”

 

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

“On our own farm, we’ve planted 250 acres of rice, with maybe 190 up. None of my farmers are doing much better than that. A little more rice has been planted south of here in Bolivar County, I was told, but I don’t know of any planted in that county from Shelby north.

“By this time last year we were well finished, with all of it in before April 5. This year, we moved into the field on a Monday three weeks ago and planted that 190 acres that is up. Then last Friday we planted three small fields, then started in another. But that ground was still too wet, and the dirt started balling up on the drill. We quickly reached the point that we were doing more harm than good.

“Where we planted three weeks ago, we began finding white spikes on April 16.”


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