Rice – Midsouth – How Many Acres For 2020? – AgFax

    Rice irrigated with poly pipe. ©Debra L Ferguson

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    A shifting weather forecast may push Arkansas farmers to take more rice to flood sooner than expected. See Jarrod Hardke’s comments.

    Warmer weather has started perking up Midsouth rice after yet one more cool spell. Temperatures in the low 90s seem likely over the weekend through much of the Midsouth.

    Planting continues in the Delta, but it’s hard to say what percentage of the 2020 crop remains to be seeded. As several of our contacts noted this week, many farmers continue planting rice, over and above their intended commitment. Mostly, these new rice acres are coming out of soybeans. Also, farmers are planting more row rice, especially if they’ve never grown rice or haven’t been in the crop in recent years.

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    Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana

    “Most all of my row rice has been planted, and a decent amount of my paddy rice has been planted. We have polypipe stretched out, so we will start the irrigation regimen when we see fit. It’s funny how rice can go in a matter of weeks from one blade to the point that it looks like a golf green.

    “After all this cold, wet and miserable weather, we finally have the rice on a good footing. No major issues (as of 5/19), but some of the young rice is a little white. That’s on sandy fields where it rained after we put out a little too much Command.

    “To my knowledge, we haven’t had any 90-degree days yet. And that may be typical, but April and most of May have been mild. I dare say that we’re ready for summer. If it was to turn 90 degrees right now, we wouldn’t gripe.

    “With soybeans, we’re 80% planted, maybe a little more. This last rain put planting on hold in places. Beans look good overall, and we really don’t have too many issues. I don’t have any replants on soybeans so far this year, which is a rare treat for me. Everything seemed to come up, and I was proud about that.

    “Some are in R1 right now, but certainly by the end of the week a fair number of my early April beans will start to pod.

    “I have corn that started tasseling last week, and on a lot of acres our corn is in that stage where you can hear it grow.

    “I had to spray 200 to 300 acres of corn for northern corn leaf blight this past week. It was one of those situations where we saw a little bit of it a week ago, then we went back five or six days later – and poof – it was at a level where we didn’t feel comfortable with it.

    “I’m still finding a few fall armyworms on the non-Bt corn. It’s nothing I’m going to be spraying but they certainly are noteworthy. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this many fall armyworms this early in the corn.

    “I think we have a better corn crop this year than last year. In the heavy clay, we have some corn that is actually green this year, which was not the case for 2019. I’m not going to say it’s the best corn crop I’ve ever seen in northeastern Louisiana, but it’s better than what we had last year.”


    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana

    “The majority of my rice acres so far this year are row rice, and it’s doing great. The cooler weather slowed it down, and we definitely are behind on degree days – but it looks good and healthy.

    “A lot of crawfish fields have been or are being drained. Some of those acres may go to soybeans once the fields dry up, which isn’t happening right now. Then some fields will just be fallowed until they plant their crawfish rice in August, which serves as a forage crop for the crawfish. It is unlikely any of my growers will choose to plant production rice into the drained crawfish fields.

    “The corn crop looks to have excellent potential. The youngest corn has ear shoots visible now, so it’s around growth stage V15. The earliest planted corn is in full pollen. Scouting in the corn for southern green stinkbugs in ongoing, but we are not finding very many. Also, we have not discovered any southern rust in the corn yet.

    “Soybeans are anywhere from not planted yet to probably R2 growth stage on some of the really early varieties planted on sugarcane ground. They still have a lot of growing to do. They’re still pretty small due to the cool temperatures and the rain.”


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

    “We are probably 75% to 80% finished with rice planting (as of 5/19). That number fluctuates daily with all the talk of switching crops. Some guys finished planting rice, while others have decided to plant more rice instead of shifting to soybeans. That’s due to the stronger rice market. There’s no fun in raising $8.50 beans.

    “Every one of our rice farmers will have at least one field of row rice this year. In places, they are putting in row rice where they originally planned to have soybeans.

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    “Our rice is in much better shape now. Last week, it looked rough. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more disappointed in how a rice crop looked. All that cold weather didn’t treat it well. But with warmer conditions, it has visibly turned around. Fields with a sick appearance last week look much healthier now.

    “Soybeans are in a similar situation. Some guys have planted all their intended acres but others have none planted at all. Non-GMO growers don’t have any soybeans planted yet. But Mississippi County growers have planted a big part of their crop and most of that is up to a good stand.

    “I don’t think we’ve had any major issues with soybeans. Maybe a few low ends flooded out, but cold weather hasn’t really affected them.”


    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

    “It’s hard to say where we are with planting progress because people continue to plant more rice. About 80% of what would have been our intended acreage has been planted. But then out of the blue, a farmer will tell me he’s planted another 400 acres.

    “A portion of all the newer acres is in row rice. Growers who haven’t farmed rice in the last 7 or 8 years – or certainly since 2011 – have some semblance of normal paddy production and/or row rice. Those farmers who’ve never raised rice are primarily going with row rice.

    “Fields are still too wet in places to plant, particularly in the north Delta. But wet conditions also have held up planting on a localized basis in the mid-Delta.

    “Plenty of levees are going up and a lot of people are flushing. But the main rice with water on it is where growers water-seeded acres, but that is a very minor part of the crop. I did just receive my first 2020 report of anyone flooding a rice field this year. At best, though, we’re 7 to 10 days out from seeing a flood on the bulk of our regular crop.

    “Where rice is up, it looks good, other than paraquat drift issues in specific locations. Until the last few days (from 5/20), we haven’t had the kind of warm and sunny weather needed to bring rice out of the ground and keep it growing. Before that, the crop looked sick.

    “We’re approaching the deadline for prevented planting, and a couple of people said they might take that route but hadn’t decided. Then in a couple of days, I would find out that they had planted more rice.

    “Just two days of sunshine really perked things up and probably helped everyone’s outlook, too. That’s true for rice but probably for any other crop in the Delta this week.”


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

    “Most rice has been planted. Where anything is left to plant in south Louisiana, it’s crawfish rice. The bulk of our crop in southwest Louisiana is at green ring, and some early water-seeded rice is in early boot.

    “Temperatures were very hot in March, and we got a quick jump on rice growth and development. But April was a little cooler than normal, and the same goes for May so far. Colder conditions slowed crop growth enough that we’ll be about on track for our normal harvest timing.

    “Now, temperatures appear to be creeping into the high 80s and low 90s, so we should see a noticeable difference in how the crop looks this week. Rain chances have increased for late this week and into next week, so we’ll also have to see how that plays into things.

    “Most calls this week have been about how slowly rice is responding to midseason nitrogen applications. That delay is kind of expected with cooler weather and recent rainfall patterns, but hotter weather will bring us out of that.

    “With most rice at midseason and some into early boot. start thinking about disease management. It’s time to gear up for smut control, which means applying propiconazole while rice is still in the boot. This is a prophylactic application. Keep in mind, too, that spraying after boot split has no effect on smut.

    “We went through extreme smut problems last year in south Louisiana, so it’s imperative to act now if you had smut pressure in 2019. The spores are still very much with us. We didn’t worry much about smut in the past, but its presence has increased each year to the point that smut reached epidemic levels in 2019.”


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

    “Rice looks good. Chinch bugs are about the only problem people are dealing with this week. They’ve turned into an issue on both the east and west sides of Houston on heavier soils. Most folks go with a Dermacor seed treatment, but it doesn’t control chinch bugs. Farmers are coming in with a pyrethroid to control the insect.

    “Warmer weather has settled over the crop, so rice is progressing fast now.”


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

    “Things are moving along pretty smoothly. I have farmers who are still putting a little rice in the ground. They’re about to back away from planting any more conventional varieties, but hybrid planting could linger for another week or two.

    “On our own farm, we have rice planted on May 5 that came up quickly in that warm spell early this month. We’ll take some of that to a shallow flood tomorrow (5/22) as things look now. When we applied Command and Roundup, it was dry that week and we didn’t get a rain to activate it. But things warmed up enough for barnyardgrass to emerge, and we ended up with a bunch of two-leaf barnyardgrass that we had to spray.

    “We decided to come in with fertilizer and bring that rice up to a very shallow flood. I hate flushing and will avoid it unless I need to gain a stand. At this point, it made more sense to come in with a pinpoint flood.

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    “Personally, I feel like we’re two weeks behind on our latest planting. Except for 200 acres we planted on April 15, the bulk of our planting didn’t start until May 2.

    “Rain fell over the weekend, but amounts varied widely. On our farm at the south end of Coahoma County, it measured a half to three-quarters of an inch in one area. But on the far eastern side of the place, 1.5 inches fell. Just a mile west of there it didn’t rain at all. These were more like spotty summertime thunderstorms, and everyone has a different scenario depending how much or if it rained on a given field.

    “Overall, it’s amazing how quickly this crop has advanced. With that warm weather in the first 10 days of May, the rice really hammered along. But with the cooler weather early in the week, it kind of stopped growing. Now, though, we’re supposed to be into the low 80s today and maybe close to 90 tomorrow. Things will now begin moving again.

    “Soybean planting is winding down, which is really surprising since hardly any had been planted two weeks ago. About the only beans left to plant are in the Tunica County area where growers were still working the ground. Rains delayed planting last year, which led to a late harvest and plenty of ruts. Growers kept working ground to fill in all that and now they need a rain in a number of places.

    “Again, showers have been spotty. Dust was blowing at Robinsonville in Tunica County on Monday, but up toward Interstate 69 at Banks, water was standing in fields.”


    Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

    “The weather forecast suddenly changed, and everyone is scrambling to figure out what to do. I’ve taken one call after another today (5/20), and the battery on my phone ran down about lunchtime. All afternoon, my phone has been on the charger and I’ve been talking to folks on the speaker.

    “Everyone is scrambling.

    “When the day started, the forecast said rain would start early Saturday morning and then continue through the weekend and into next week. Pretty quickly, though, the weather models shifted and said the rain wouldn’t crank up until Monday.

    “That gave farmers more time to do things, especially with rice planted toward the end of March and through mid-April. Much of that rice is at the fourth to fifth leaf. But with all the cold weather it’s been through this spring, development slowed and plants aren’t as big as they normally would be when going to flood.

    “People wanted to know what to do. Could they go ahead and set things up for a flood now, even if plants are shorter than usual? They have dry ground now and want to take advantage of that – apply preflood fertilizer and flood.

    “Also, if a long stretch of rain develops next week, that throws in a significant delay. By the time things dried up enough for preflood fertilizer, fields would be past the optimum application period, so farmers might leave part of their yield on the table.

    “We’re trying to get some of that going now. A few people already applied fertilizer at the end of last week but didn’t receive as much rain as they hoped, so they started pumping. I’m driving by some of that now, and it has really jumped. As small as some of this rice is now, it will grow fast with nitrogen and these warmer temperatures.

    “In the right situation, consider taking two- to three-leaf rice to flood, even though it’s shorter. That’s on the early side, but we’ve experimented with taking that rice to flood and have shown positive results.

    “With favorable growing conditions, those small plants will grow even as the flood is going on. You need the right field for this to work – either zero-grade acreage or a near-zero slope so you can manage that initial shallow flood. If you can bring all that together, you can achieve full yield potential. It’s smaller rice but, again, it will creep up in size as everything else falls into place.

    “Putting on the flood also means it will be easier to manage weeds. In a few situations, you might go without a preflood herbicide. With all the rain, residuals have worked well, so you possibly can scale back your herbicide outlay to $50 or less. If you wait to take that rice to flood, herbicide costs will increase.

    “If we can go to flood early, the rain also will help reduce pumping costs.

    “Another question to consider do you push hard on taking this rice to flood or do you keep planting? That’s the question growers are facing where they still have unplanted ground. I’m a strong proponent of dealing with the crop that’s already in the ground. Except for applying that last big shot of nitrogen, you’ve already spent most of your money. If an opportunity like this comes along, why not jump on it? You’ll optimize yield potential and also save something on herbicides, given the right situations.

    “Where you’re putting out fertilizer ahead of this rain, make sure it includes Agrotain or a similar nitrogen stabilizer. That will minimize nitrogen loss if it does rain, plus buy you time to establish the flood. If you’re working with a relatively small amount of acres that you can flood in a few days, the stabilizer may not be necessary.

    “Plenty of herbicide and fertilizer work is suddenly cranking up all at once and across a big part of the crop. A good deal more acreage will be ready for preflood applications next week, too. Even if it’s rainy and cloudy, the rice will continue to move. Aerial applicators will be backed up, so that’s all the more reason to react now if you have that option.”

    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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