Rice: Midsouth Catching Up On Planting, More Coastal Rice Goes To Flood

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Midsouth farmers have planted a significant portion of the crop since last week’s report. The weather cooperated across a wide area. The forecast does call for rain and colder conditions late in the week. That will put planting on hold again, at least in parts of the region.

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

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    Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas

    “We probably have planted 75% of our rice by now (5/5), mainly on the higher ground and on lighter soils. The lower areas and heavier soils are still too wet for us to do anything. The way things have played out, we’ll be within a day or so of being able to start up in those places, then it rains again.

    “Our earlier rice is up, and it looks better than it did thanks to warm temperatures last week. The rice perked up quickly. We’re beginning to apply residuals over the top of that rice.

    “Soybean planting hasn’t gone too well yet. Probably 25% of the crop has been planted. Usually, by now, we’re mostly finished with beans. We sprayed some wheat last week for armyworms. This isn’t a wheat crop we’re proud of. Too much rain fell in the winter and into the spring, and wheat didn’t make it in the low spots.”


    Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana

    “A fair amount of our rice is up to the one- to two-leaf stage, but we still have a good bit left to plant. Some growers have finished or are close to it. Others have been working on other crops and are just starting into rice planting.

    “A few guys who didn’t have rice last year will plant some this year, and others who grew it in 2019 will increase their acreage this year.

    “We expected that corn would replace some of our cotton acres this year, but the weather kept guys from planting as much corn as they intended. Some of that ground transitioned into soybeans, but those who grew rice moved that land into it. And one farmer who hasn’t had rice in 10 years will plant 1,000 acres of it this year.”


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

    “The crop looks good in general. It’s all planted and more is going to flood every day. Even all of our organic rice – which usually lags behind a little – has been planted. No pest problems to speak of. The weather has warmed up, so rice is progressing well.”


    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

    “This week, planting should progress pretty rapidly. I think USDA had us at 28% to 30% in its last report, but we could be 85% planted by the end of this week.

    “A few stragglers will still be around, but some farmers will go into the weekend with all their rice planted or be nearly to that point.

    “The forecast calls for rain on Friday, so everyone is pushing hard ahead of that. Rain came through at midday today (5/5) at the station (Delta REC, Stoneville) and shut us down for about 90 minutes, but it wasn’t enough to keep us from starting up again.

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    “Just enough fell to incorporate the herbicides we sprayed yesterday, then we could still keep planting. That doesn’t happen often.

    “We have some two-leaf rice, and it looks good. But I’m also seeing places where rice and grass came up at about the same time or maybe the grass is a little older. We’ll have to be selective with herbicides in those cases.

    “As things look statewide, we’ll plant something more than 150,000 acres, although I’m not sure how much above that to expect, maybe up to 175,000 acres.

    “Hopefully, the rice that’s up won’t be dinged by all the herbicides that have been going out on soybeans over the last couple of days. The way the wind is blowing, I expect that some drift reports will turn up next week. But where people are simultaneously planting rice and soybeans this week, the injury won’t be an immediate concern.” 


    Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas

    “Probably 50% of our rice has been planted, I think, but how much rice we’ll finally have is a moving target right now (5/5).

    “Everyone wants to plant more rice, mostly on heavy ground. The weather has delayed things, but I think some growers will keep planting rice this year up to June 1. At times, they’re finishing up planting rice in a field and then decide that they’ll plant the adjoining field in rice since they’re already there.

    “My farmers have planted a pretty good chunk of row rice, and probably 40% of my rice will be on rows this year. A good deal of that rice is up, too. Some farmers with a history of growing rice think they can make it work okay. It’s easier to raise row rice and you don’t need a guy who knows how to manage water – just pump it through the polypipe.

    “Others want to move into rice this year but don’t have the equipment to set up levees and also don’t have that guy who knows how to manage the water, and he’s necessary in paddy production. For them, row rice is the only option if they want to have rice in their crop mix in 2020.”


    Scott Holder, Helena Chemical Co., Cleveland, Mississippi

    “We’re halfway finished with rice planting, I think. With another five or six days of good conditions, we should pretty much wrap it up.

    “Rain caused significant delays, and growers had to work up a lot of ground before they could plant. I don’t have a firm idea yet on how rice acres will run, but I suspect they’ll at least be up 10% to 15%.

    “Some growers are planting about the same number of acres they usually plant, but a few who haven’t raised any rice in several years will have 200 to 300 acres this year.

    “The weather really limited how much corn we finally had. If conditions had been dry in mid-March, most of our intended corn would have been planted. But it kept raining, then oil demand dropped and ethanol plants started closing. So, people backed away from corn after a certain point.

    “Some of those corn acres went to rice, but most will end up in soybeans. We’re maybe halfway finished with planting soybeans. With another week like this, we will be way down the line with them.

    “We missed a rain today (5/5), which is good. Rain is in the forecast again over the weekend, but by then we will need it.”


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

    “A good deal of rice went to flood over this past week.

    “One of the main questions people ask at this point is how soon to expect a color change in the rice plant after the nitrogen goes out. Under good conditions, it takes about three days for rice to take on the darker green color. But if the plant has been in some kind of stress, it has to move past that stress before you see any effect from the nitrogen.

    “Causes for stress vary by location and season. If the rice has been under water or the field has some underlying nutrient issue beyond nitrogen, that can affect things. Also, if herbicides slightly injured the plant, that delays rice greening up.

    “Again, the plant has to recover first.

    “Also, watch for algae after large applications of nitrogen and phosphorous go out. With warm conditions, algae blooms can happen quickly. Make sure the bloom doesn’t cover up the rice. It forms a mat, cuts out much of the sunlight and can kill rice plants. It’s essential to closely manage water. Applying a copper-sulfate solution will break up the algae, too, but that’s an extra cost.

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    “I’ll see situations where the water level goes up and then wind pushes algae to one side of the field where it bunches up. That’s definitely a bad situation.

    “Parts of south Louisiana received rain yesterday, and it was heavy in places. I planted soybeans on the rice station’s south farm yesterday, and the forecast had a 40% chance of rain, which turned into 5.5 inches of rain last night (5/5). That pretty much flooded the south farm. A pretty good band of thunderstorms moved across southwest Louisiana and another passed over south-central Louisiana. Amounts varied down to a couple of tenths.”


    Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

    “We’ve made progress. Over the last weekend (5/2-3), we started a good run from the very top of Arkansas to the bottom – the first time we could say that all season. It didn’t last long, though. Sunday afternoon, a blob-like weather system developed, and an inch of rain fell from about Jonesboro north.

    “But as you went south, the rain was more scattered, so people mostly kept rolling. On Monday morning, another two tenths fell in places, but that didn’t stop people to any large extent. Most farmers were running wide open today (5/6), and it looks like they will be pressing ahead until Thursday night when the next system comes through.

    “By Thursday night, we should be 60% to 70% planted based on how much people are in the field across a large portion of the state. We actually could use the rain to help bring rice up and activate herbicides. If it only rains a half-inch, that will be enough for the moment. We’ll maybe lose a day in the field, then start running again.

    “A cool spell will come with this next system, and temperatures are supposed to fall into the low to mid-40s, depending on location. People are asking if they should go ahead and put down herbicides. The concern is that rice would grow slower and herbicides might ding it up.

    “On the other hand, if you apply the herbicides, the rain will activate them, which is a valuable thing. Otherwise, you’re forced to come back with post-emergence materials.

    “It looks like we’ll plant all of the intended rice, and I know growers who are considering whether to swap some additional acres for rice. In particular, they weren’t able to plant all their corn. A portion of that will go to soybeans, but rice will pick up some of that ground, too. Soybean and corn prices aren’t attractive, and that enters into the conversation, as well.

    “People are seeing what they think is a little injury on the lower leaves, and it’s likely just slight desiccation due to high winds and cracking soil. Some of that may be chemical-related, but it’s mostly due to wind. It’s kind of inconsequential at this point.”


    Tyler Fitzgerald, AgriLife Agricultural Agent, Jefferson County, Texas

    “Farmers are wrapping up planting on the east side of Houston after making a late start due to all the weather. Last fall, Tropical Storm Imelda hit, so things turned really wet. We actually started 2019 dealing with all the problems caused by Hurricane Harvey the year before, plus it was a wet spring then, too.

    “We have mostly caught up now, with just a small amount of rice left to plant. That’s about normal for this point in May. A few guys have only been able to plant a fraction of their crop. The ground was too wet to work in the fall, and they have been playing catch up.

    ”Very little of our rice has gone to flood, but quite a bit should be to that point in the next two to three weeks. Our rice acres seem to be about average, especially compared to last year when all the wet weather resulted in some prevented planting. The crop size in this area is back to what we expect in a normal year.”

    AgFax Rice: Midsouth/Texas is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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