Midsouth planting continued to stall due to frequent rains over the last week. Forecasts do look better as we move into May, and several days of good planting conditions seem likely.
In the coastal rice belt, the crop is moving along quite well. Farmers jumped off to an early start across a wide area and warmer-than-average conditions pushed development. More rice is heading to flood. A small amount of early-planted rice is at or past green ring in both states.
Chinch bugs have built into heavy numbers in parts of southwest Louisiana. See comments by Dustin Harrell.
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Hugh Whitby, KC Consulting, Wynne, Arkansas
“We’ve planted close to 75% of our rice (as of 4/29). With all the rain, we’ve averaged about a day and a half of field time every week for the last month. It rained again yesterday and last night, plus it’s been sprinkling off and on all day.
“Our rice actually needed a shower because the ground had gotten pretty hard and crusted over, so this will help rice come up.
“My rice acres will be down this year. I also lost a lot last year to prevented planting. I hope everything balances out with soybeans and everything else.
“We’ll have a little row rice but not nearly as much as growers planted three years ago. When people first tried it, they planted it on ground with a slight fall, which was well suited for row rice. The next year it went on some land that was too steep, so they had trouble irrigating it.
“What little corn we’ll have has been planted. Where farmers wanted to plant more, the weather prevented it. If they kept on, they were looking at planting dates in late April and into the first part of May. Some growers planted three weeks ago, and then another batch went in two weeks ago.
“I expect that my soybean acres will increase a little compared to last year. Where people are planting more soybeans, the motivation is about evenly split between planting something that’s cheaper to grow and staying in their rotation.
“I have about 400 acres of milo this year. The client wanted the rotation benefits and also a way to work on pigweed. I’m told that this milo is at least somewhat resistant to sugarcane aphid. I hope that’s the case. That will be the only milo for miles around, so it could be a target for every aphid in the area.”
“We may have planted 75% of our rice so far, and we’ll have more rice than last year. The acreage could be up 25%, maybe more than that. A few of my growers haven’t finished planting yet but several have wrapped it up.
“Nothing is up to a stand yet. In certain cases, farmers are getting nervous because it’s been 18 to 19 days since they planted, then it rained another inch last night (4/28) in most places. We certainly didn’t need that rain, but temperatures are supposed to warm up by Saturday, so rice should jump out with that. Even what we planted last Tuesday has sprouted, so it’s coming along.
“Some of these additional rice acres are coming out of corn, which is a dog right now. Several of my growers who mainly raise corn have asked about putting in row rice. Row rice still seems to be on an upward trend. I don’t know if my row rice acres will be up, though. One client backed off on some acres.”
Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist
“A little more rice has been planted in the last seven days (from 4/28) but – as someone once told me – ‘It’s not enough to pour gravy over.’ Growers planted a little throughout the weekend, mostly just pecking around for drier spots.
“Based on conversations with consultants, it sounds like a lot of farmers elected to plant soybeans and held off on rice. For those farmers, hitting a soybean planting date in April might be more important. They probably figured they still can plant rice in the first two weeks of May and won’t have lost much potential.
“Cool weather probably kept a lot of farmers from jumping into rice planting. A good deal of rice planted two weeks ago is just poking out of the ground.
“Cold and wet conditions aren’t good for germination. With rice starting to emerge now, we might notice disease issues in the next couple of days if it continues to rain. But if things turn hot and dry, that will limit disease development.
“You can kind of judge how well rice will grow this time of the year by whether you need your jacket in the morning or if you can leave it in the truck. With the way the wind was blowing this morning, you needed the jacket.
“In terms of final acres, rice remains stable. Nobody is pulling back yet like they are with corn. Unless something drastic happens, we’ll have more rice acres in Mississippi than in several years.
“If everything goes well and the prevailing weather brings us plenty of wind and sunshine, Monday promises to be a big planting day. With a solid 10 days like that, we can plant a significant portion of the crop.
“We need to keep things in perspective. It seems like we’re late. But not so many years ago, people didn’t start planting until April 15. With larger equipment now, we can plant faster and have the luxury of potentially planting every crop within an optimum window. That, of course, can cause problems on the back end when everything is ready for harvest at the same time.”
Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist
“Statewide, it generally rained about 1.5 inches last night (4/28), and that was another kick in the head for anyone still planting rice. A little more than a third of our potential crop has been planted, maybe 40%, which still tracks well behind the five-year average. That rain was the last thing we needed.
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“A few lucky guys missed enough of the rain last week to plant over the weekend in lighter or higher spots. Overall, though, not much has happened in the last few days. We are staring at the second consecutive year when the majority of our rice has been planted in May and beyond.
“We can point to a few bright spots – guys who finished in certain areas and their neighbors are close to being done, too. But I also know farmers who have yet to plant any rice, although that’s a smaller subset than a couple of weeks ago.
“The least amount of progress continues to be in the southern part of the state. That half of Arkansas caught rain from every system that moved through. Farther north, less rain fell.
“Temperatures also ran in a different pattern – above average in March but somewhat below normal in April. Rice planted during that cold stretch isn’t jumping out of the ground, and growers are a little concerned about the money in seed and seed treatment they have sitting in the ground.
“In one planting date study, it took longer for April-planted rice to emerge than plots planted in March when the weather was warmer. With colder conditions, that April rice took almost three weeks to emerge. Going back to maybe 2013, rice in that March planting date always took longer to emerge, but that’s not the case in 2020.
“Where rice has been in the ground awhile, farmers will have to overlay another residual herbicide, even though the rice isn’t completely up yet. That first herbicide application is playing out. Normally, we’d like to know rice has gained a good stand before coming back with another shot. But this year, we’ve been caught sideways and have no choice but to spend the money.
“If you let grass escape, you’ll spend more money to fight it later. And with cooler conditions, it can be harder to gain control with postemergence herbicides. When weeds are actively growing, you achieve a better kill.”
M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont
“Most rice is close to flood or already flooded, which is good news. It’s been a little windy, which has hindered preflood herbicides applications a bit.
“No big problems lately other than a recent cold spell. In our very early plantings, that complicated timing for fertilizer, flushes and herbicides. But, in general, the crop looks good.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas
“It’s still wet. We just got rain two nights ago, with more coming tomorrow night (4/28).
“We’re all over the board with rice planting. I have guys nearly done planting rice while others have barely started. I’d say 50% of the intended rice has been planted. We need to finish it, too. Rice is where we’ll probably make money this year.
“We have an enormous amount of row rice this year. I may have more this year than in the last three years combined. It’s mostly cheaper to water and produce.
“That said, if your fields are grown up with resistant grass, it’s not cheap. But growers like it better, and saving money on watering is a huge reason to switch to row rice. You just have to be careful about the ground you’re putting it on.
“Personally, I don’t like row rice as well as I do the paddy rice. I would rather check row rice, but you’re going to consistently make more off of paddy rice.”
Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana
“Last year, we went through a challenging planting season. But so far, it’s definitely been more difficult in 2020. Frequent showers made for challenging planting conditions with only 2- to 3-day windows to plant.
“So far, we’ve probably planted 10% to 15% of our rice in northeast Louisiana. Less rain fell on the southern end of the northeast Delta and other areas that missed rains in early April, which allowed some planting. The majority of our rice goes on heavy clay, which may take 10 to 14 days of drying for planting to resume.
“Our row rice acres have been steadily increasing in northeast Louisiana. In 2018, we had 5,000 to 6,000 acres of row rice in Louisiana, with the majority of that here in the northeast. In 2019, that increased to over 15,000 acres. Lower soybean prices are moving some acres into row rice as an alternative.
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“Generally, farmers who are producing row rice were already rice growers. A very small percentage of guys moving into row rice now are true row croppers and not rice producers.
“We have planted limited acres of soybeans, with a little going in two weeks ago. In the last few days, folks were starting to plant more beans after getting corn in. But we probably haven’t planted more than 10% to 15% of our soybean acres so far.”
Charles Downs, Downs Ag Consulting, LLC, Indianola, Mississippi
“Only 4% to 5% of the crop has been planted in the areas where I work rice. That’s pretty much in the upper part of Sunflower County and into Bolivar County. Our first rice is just coming up to a stand. We’re pretty much waiting until stands are better established before going in with fertilizer or making that second herbicide application.
“We’re running way behind compared to last year – and we thought 2019 was a bad year for starting a rice crop.
“It looks like we’re moving into better weather. My growers have plenty of planting power, so they can move quickly once they’re in the field again.
“The weather affected corn, too. We only ended up with 50% to 70% of the intended corn acres. Now that we’re pretty much past the corn window, people have backed off planting any more of it. The last corn was planted Monday before that rain. Some of our oldest is at V7.
“Probably 15% to 20% of our bean acres have been planted, and much of that happened in the last four to five days. The majority of the crop is just emerging and our oldest is in the second trifoliate.”
Gary Bradshaw, Independent Agronomist, Bradshaw Agricultural Consulting, Richmond, Texas
“My clients probably started planting rice around March 6-9, and a few farmers in the area actually began planting at the very end of February. With just a couple of exceptions, all of our rice was planted before April 1.
“We ended up replanting some entire fields and bits and pieces, maybe a total of 250 acres. That’s more than we typically replant. Blackbird damage and saturated soils accounted for most of the replanting.
“We started flooding some of the earliest rice about two weeks ago. Now, we’re making decisions about preflood herbicides and fertilizer on the rest of the rice. In two more weeks, that will probably be behind us.
“Some hybrid rice suffered more herbicide injury than in the past, which delayed growth. That part of the crop won’t be as early as the planting date would indicate, but it’s starting to turn around and we still have time to make a good crop and a second crop.
“Early this week, some of our oldest rice was just past green ring. The timing was about typical for the number of days after emergence. We went through a stretch of above-normal temperatures and then a smaller period with below-normal temperatures, so it seems to have all averaged out.
“A pretty general rain fell Tuesday and Wednesday, from a half-inch to 2.5 inches in places. So in places, it will be the middle of next week before we can do anything in those fields. In an area where less rain fell, we’re planning to start preflood herbicides and fertilizer early next week.”
“Chinch bugs are turning up in multiple areas this week. One consultant told me about a grower flooding a field and all the bugs moved to the edge and were on top of the plants by the hundreds. Later, another consultant in a different part of the state also reported heavy chinch bug pressure.
“Dry conditions in places have likely made them more prevalent. Chinch bugs are rarely a problem in south Louisiana. Perhaps the mini-drought we were having made them more prevalent this year.
“Cruiser Max works well on them, but we use a lot of Dermacor seed treatment down here, and it’s not effective on chinch bugs.
“Control methods include flooding the field or spraying an insecticide. In the case of excessive numbers moving to field edges, it may be necessary to also spray that part of the field with a four-wheeler to protect those heavily infested plants.
“We did receive a pretty good storm on Tuesday evening (4/28). Most areas in southwest Louisiana received 2.5 to 4.5 inches of rain. It was needed because fields were so dry.
“A lot of people did decide to hold water from the storm, although many hadn’t put out preflood fertilizer yet. That takes away the option of going with a regular preflood fertilizer program. Growers with that rice will have to move to a nitrogen spoon-feeding program.
“I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that some rice was water-seeded early and that it took off due to the warmer-than-normal temperatures. Well, that rice is already at green ring.
“Except for the 10-day cold spell, this has been one of the best starts to a rice season that I can remember. This crop is moving along fast and has excellent yield potential.”
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