Rice – Midsouth Planting Winds Down | Tropical Storm Raises Concerns – AgFax

Row planted rice. Photo: Dan Roach, MSU Extension Associate

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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 will likely wind down over the weekend or early next week. If forecasts hold, tropical storm Cristobal will deliver enough rain early next week to push any additional planting even later into June. Early next week, growers also will hit the cutoff date for the late prevented planting option. Combined, those two factors will probably put a cap on further planting.

Tropical storm Cristobal remains a huge wildcard in how this season turns out for many growers. It’s too early to say where it will make landfall or how it will move once ashore. But as we closed this issue, the projected tracking cone had mostly narrowed down to areas from eastern Texas to the Mississippi coast. Texas and southeast Louisiana are particularly vulnerable because portions of their rice are in boot or heading.

More Midsouth rice is moving to flood, but flooding has taken a back burner where farmers are struggling to finish planting soybeans. See comments by Jarrod Hardke.

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CROP REPORTS

Scott Holder, Helena Chemical Co., Cleveland, Mississippi

“Some of the first-planted rice fields are going to flood now (6/3). Spraying has started in kind of our second wave of planting, and that part of the crop is about to go to flood. By the first of next week, 70% of our rice could be at or going to flood. Most of our rice is clean.

“So far this year, we haven’t had to spray any corn for stink bugs. About 6% of last year’s corn required an application. We still have a little young corn, but most of our crop has been laid by. Farmers have watered some of that corn once but then it rained last week, so we’re in pretty fair shape for moisture.

“Our oldest beans – those planted in April – are flowering, and growers are taking them into layby.”

 

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

“Our rice crop generally looks very good. We are somewhat concerned about the tropical storm (Cristobal) that’s expected to track towards the Gulf Coast.

“The crop is running very early this year, and some will likely be cut in the first and second weeks of July. Stink bugs have started showing up, but we have good tools for controlling them.”

 

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

“We are trying to move fields to flood pretty fast. We’re still struggling in places to get the levees up on heavy ground. We’re pushing to make those preflood nitrogen and herbicide applications. Overall, nothing too crazy is going on with the rice.

“Corn is just about all laid by, and I think we pretty much finished that before all the rain last week. A lot of soybeans are still being planted on heavy ground. We’ve laid by our oldest soybeans, and some of those are starting to bloom right on schedule.”

 

Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana

“Our rice is actually running ahead of schedule compared to 2019. We’re doing a lot of herbicide and fertilizer work, and some rice went to flood over the last couple of weeks. We’ll probably see more of that this week. About 98% of the rice has been planted, with just a couple of hundred acres remaining.

“In our row rice, we’re applying herbicides and fertilizer and are watering it in.

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“The bulk of our corn has finished pollinating. We’ve watered most of it where we can and are probably on the second irrigation on most of it. A very limited acreage of our soybeans are at R4. The bulk of our soybeans range from emerging to just starting to bloom.”

 

Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas

“I’m probably taking 50% of my rice acres to flood right now (6/3), and we’re applying herbicides and fertilizer about as hard as you can.

“We’ll be off about 15% on our intended rice acres, and those unplanted acres will shift to soybeans. The weather kept stalling us out when we needed to be in the field.

“Conditions started heating up, and we went from dealing with wet ground to really dry soils, and they’re starting to crack. So, herbicides aren’t working like they had been. On some of our later-planted rice, we’re flushing fields to activate residuals. Up until things turned dry, rice looked really good in terms of weed control. But grass has really started emerging now, and we’re in a battle with it.

“Our corn looks really nice. All the herbicides are out and all the fertilizer has been applied except for the pre-tassel shot. Growers are watering corn.

“Probably 75% of our beans have been planted. We’ve applied overlapping residuals but have run into a moisture issue. At least some of those herbicides are laying on dry dirt and need a rain for activation.”

 

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

“I’ve been revisiting areas in southwest Louisiana that were hit last week by hail. Rice that was in boot or heading sustained a good deal of damage and considerable yield loss. That’s really unfortunate because up until the storm hit, that rice looked absolutely beautiful. You can do things right all year but then a single incident – just one storm – can take away all that. It’s very disheartening.

“Within the area, we lost something less than 10% of the crop, but it was our very earliest rice and those fields had strong yield potential. For the farmers directly affected, this is a bad situation.

“Where rice wasn’t that far along – at green ring to PD – I’m estimating 10% to 15% yield loss due to the hail, but it wasn’t wiped out. However, other hail-related problems could affect production between now and harvest. For one thing, the hail battered the leaves but didn’t necessarily knock them off. They’re dangling down in the canopy like broken arms, and those leaves will hinder the normal air flow within the field. With more humidity in the canopy, we can expect more pressure from sheath blight and other diseases. Plus, injuries to the plant give pathogens a quick way to infect tissue.

“The hail fell to varying degrees within about a 200-square-mile area, and two-thirds of the rice within that area probably will be okay. I visited one field of very young rice that lost all its leaves, but the crowns were still alive, and that rice started coming back the next week.

“And now, tropical storm Cristobal is out in the Gulf of Mexico. When I checked its track earlier today, the storm was heading straight towards us. With more rice in boot and more starting to head, this is the wrong time for strong winds and heavy rain. If the forecast holds, this is setting us up for a wider amount of yield loss.

“In the whole scheme of things, we only lost a small percentage of the total crop to hail. But now the tropical storm is heading this way, and that could significantly affect how the crop in south Louisiana turns out.

“In northeast Louisiana, rice has been growing fast now that the weather has warmed up. I’m seeing rice that in 2.5 weeks almost seems to have jumped from emergence to being ready for a flood. It has turned dry in parts of northeast Louisiana, and growers need to flush.”

 

Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

“Rice planting will pretty much be behind us in Mississippi by the end of this week. A few growers in the north Delta may be willing to push to that point to try to make up for lost time. One rain after another fell up there when it was time to plant, and some of those growers are still trying to finish up what they can. How much they can finally accomplish depends on whether it rains and where it falls. At least through the first half of this week, portions of the north Delta were dry.

“Farmers are now flooding more rice every day. The main focus in rice is applying fertilizer and starting up the pumps. Plenty of rice also needs to go to flood but growers haven’t gotten around to it yet, mostly because they’re still spraying soybeans.

“Calls are picking up. One thing I looked at today (6/3) was Newpath carryover in Provisia rice. I think that rice will be okay, and the grower did everything right. But conditions have been so wet since last fall that the soil lacked enough oxygen to help break down the herbicide. The symptoms seemed to be more pronounced on the top side of the field and close to the wells. The saturated soils since last year’s crop kept the material active enough to trigger this. The roots showed ALS-type symptoms and the foliage was whitish. Again, the rice should grow out of it.

“Wet weather and soil conditions can influence carryover, and we’ve had a good deal of that for the last several years. We knew it could happen, although this is the first time we’ve seen it. If the weather had been warmer and drier, the herbicide would have broken down in the soil and carryover wouldn’t have been an issue.

“This tropical storm (Cristobal) could be a blessing because we need an inch of rain in places. We don’t need several inches, though. The forecast says it could rain an inch or two early next week. If it rains that much, whatever people plant this week will pretty much mark the end of this year’s planting season.”

 

Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

“Yet again, we’re never more than a week away from a drought. No matter how much or how often it rains, it never takes long for things to dry up too much. In places, we need water. Rain isn’t in the forecast, although certain areas picked up significant amounts last night and early this morning (6/4). From 1 to 1.5 inches fell in some areas in the state. In spots, totals hit 3 inches and blew out levees in places. Again, these were localized events. At 4 a.m. today, my phone delivered a flashflood warning for my area (Carlisle) but it didn’t rain a drop. However, some of those heavier amounts weren’t that far away.

“In places, rice has slipped into drought stress. It looks kind of mangy and is too short to flood. Conditions remained too wet for too long, which limited root development. Now, it’s dry and hot, and those fields need to be flushed. Again, it’s several days before the forecast carries any assurance of rain. In many of those cases, farmers are planting soybeans and aren’t stopping to tend to the rice.

“More and more rice is, in fact, going to flood, although it’s still not as much as I’d like to see. I’m driving by too many fields with fairly big plants but no levees butted and spills set.

“Growers are worrying about the next crop – soybeans – when they should be maximizing yield potential in rice. And let’s face it, rice is the moneymaker this year.

“Hitting soybean planting dates does maintain yield potential. But delays in taking rice to flood may more than offset the value of those extra soybean bushels you expect with timely planting. With rice, failing to take fields to flood may force you into a $30 to $40 herbicide shot to clean up weed and grass escapes. Where it’s dry, we’re already seeing grass escapes in those cracks.

“Plus, delays in applying preflood nitrogen and pumping up fields will limit rice yields, based on years of studies and comparisons. Relatively speaking, rice is worth more money than soybeans this year. Burning up precious time planting soybeans means you’re setting things up for a decline in rice yields and leaving serious money on the table. It’s false economy.

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“People are still planting rice. These popup showers are happening in north Arkansas and all the way into Missouri, and they’re throwing an extra complication into what people can do. Some growers reached what they decided would be their stopping point. Others are considering planting up until June 9, which is the final date for the reduced-rate prevented planning option.

“How much rice we’ll finally plant becomes harder to estimate every year. With a dry spring, we projected over 1.4 million acres. I still think we’ll end up with something in the range. But we can’t say how much more rice farmers will plant in June. Some guys are still flying seed onto ground that’s probably not wet enough, and it’s hard to tell how that will shake out.

“In south Arkansas, farmers mostly planted everything they intended, and that part of the state accounts for a third of our acres. We grow two-thirds of our rice north of Interstate 40. Some farmers in those counties did put in all the rice they wanted, but some sizable pockets remain unplanted. With all the rain, we’re also contending with river and backwater flooding, and some of that ground still hasn’t been planted.”

 

Tyler Fitzgerald, AgriLife Agricultural Agent, Jefferson County, Texas

“The crop is really spread out. Growers planted some rice pretty early, but we also have late-planted fields. It’s spread out, but we have really good growing conditions for rice now, regardless of how far along it is. We’ve moved past those rainy conditions last week and the week before. It’s hot now, and rice is responding well.

“With a few exceptions, most fields are going to flood if they’re not already at flood. Between this week and next week, 80% to 90% of our crop will be at or going to flood.”


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