Rice Harvest Approaches in Midsouth…Finally – AgFax

    Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Harvest is pushing ahead in the coastal rice belt of Texas and southwest Louisiana. Yields still seem to be holding up well. We’ll know more on Friday when Louisiana releases its rice harvest survey report, which we post on our website in the Louisiana and Rice sections.

    More draining has started in the Midsouth. No reports of harvesting yet, although a few combines might have run this week in rice in central Louisiana. Rains fell through parts of the region in the second half of the week, and that could delay anyone who can make an early start. This has been a late crop due to spring rains, cold weather and planting delays. Plenty of people will be greatly relieved when they see those first combines running.



    This issue caps off our 18-week publishing cycle for 2020 and also concludes our 22nd year covering the crop.

    Our special thanks to:

    The crop advisors and Extension personnel who provide the reports that go into each issue. We greatly value their time, patience and guidance.

    Corteva Agriscience and its Midsouth and Texas teams for exclusively sponsoring our coverage. This is the company’s 16th season with AgFax Rice, and that long-term commitment is much appreciated.

    From our sponsor…



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

    “Our main crop harvest is well underway and maybe 50% to 75% completed on the west side of Houston.

    “Many farmers are now dealing with the ratoon crop. A particular problem with ratoon rice gets back to the main crop harvest. Adjusting the combine to minimize the amount of grain that goes out the back is very important. This unharvested rice seed becomes weeds in the ratoon crop, and the farmer loses main crop yield, as well.

    “At times, a farmer is in a hurry to harvest the main crop because he or she can’t slow down. Rain is coming or there’s just too much acreage to harvest with the available machinery. So, rice spills out the back. All the volunteer rice that emerges will force the farmer to make tough decisions in the ratoon phase about when to apply fertilizer and when to flood up.

    “Some farmers are reporting sooty mold fungus in their main crop. Also, Kate Crumley, Extension IPM Agent, recently inspected several fields in Wharton County and found high numbers of aphids on panicles and foliage. We don’t yet know the species of these aphid, but we are investigating this situation.”


    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana

    “Rice harvest has begun in the early fields. I don’t know any actual yield numbers yet, but reports are that the rice is very good. Our middle aged rice is headed out, and most of it has been sprayed for stink bugs. We’ll have a round of late rice that went in after the final crawfish fields were drained, and none of that is even in the boot stage yet.

    “Where we treated stink bugs, numbers weren’t tremendous like we’ve seen in some recent years. They’ve been at threshold but not avalanche-type counts.

    “Corn harvest is going. Where we suspected very good dryland yields, that’s turned out to be the case. Those fields are probably averaging 225 to 250 bu/acre dry weight. Most of the other corn has been in the 200- to 225-bu/acre range. We’re happy with that, especially considering some of the ground it’s on.

    “The thing that stands out to me about 2020’s corn crop is the amount of pure sunlight we’ve had. This spring, it was the highest amount of quality sunlight I’ve ever seen.

    “Soybean harvest is underway now in the earliest fields where sugarcane will be planted. No feedback on yields yet, but those beans certainly look very good.

    “Our other MG IV soybeans are at R6.5 or in that range, and we’re pretty close to lining up our harvest-prep applications, depending on when fields were planted. We’ve sprayed stink bugs at least twice in those fields and a third time in places.

    “For the most part, redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) haven’t shown up in tremendous numbers like in the past. Soybean loopers are present in treatable numbers, but only in those late MG IVs and early MG Vs, and that’s a limited part of our soybean acreage this year. Soybean loopers could be so much worse, but we’re not treating them on a wide basis so far.”


    Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana

    “Rice fields are starting to be drained and are drying down. We will begin cutting samples early next week. I think we have a pretty good rice crop, but you never know until you cut. We will soon know how bad the heat hurt it. We have pulled the water on the row rice, and around half of the paddy rice has been drained.

    “Rice stink bugs (RSB) were fairly light in the early-planted rice, but in isolated cases in the later-planted rice, RSBs have been pretty bad. Some fields have required multiple shots to get the population down to a level we can live with.

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    “In soybeans, redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) are here to stay at this point in the year. The majority of the acres I check have been sprayed at least once for RBSBs, and 15% to 20% have been sprayed twice. This will be the biggest pest across all the crop for the rest of the season.

    “That second treatment was triggered by an explosion in redbanded numbers. When beans reached R5.5 to R6.5, RBSBs rapidly gained a foothold. I am actually checking a lot of beans twice a week to assure RBSBs are not coming in behind me.

    “All the treatments going out for redbanded stink bugs are working well, so far. We are starting to pick up a few loopers, but populations are not high enough to spray for specifically. As we continue to treat RBSBs, we are bound to flare the loopers.

    “South of I-20, most of the corn is being harvested. Yields are 5% to 10% above what we expected – a lot of corn acres are yielding 200-plus bushels per acre. The only yield issues I’m hearing of are in areas where northern corn leaf blight got bad, and those yields are slightly disappointing. 

    “North of Interstate 20, they are just starting to tiptoe into harvesting corn. They were a bit behind on the plant dates.”


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

    “I drained my first four rice fields today (8/10). It has been a long journey to get here, and this also has been the most abnormal year for rice stink bugs (RSB) I’ve seen. We’ve sprayed almost no acres for them, which is miraculous for us, and we haven’t seen the big populations we expected.

    “We do have more rice acres across my territory this year, so maybe RSBs spread out over a larger number of acres. That, in turn, diluted the pressure.

    “Some late fields haven’t headed yet, and we are applying fungicides on those. Once these late-planted fields head out, RSBs will likely concentrate in those last fields, and we probably will have to treat then.

    “We have let go of over 50% of the corn. One of my growers will start cutting corn in the next two weeks, going at high moisture and running it through a grain dryer. For the majority of my guys, it will be another month before harvest really starts.

    “In soybeans, we’re pretty much just fighting bollworms now. Everyone is trying to justify what to spray on $8 beans for bollworms. Bollworm sprays aren’t cheap, but those worms cause so much damage that you can’t afford not to spray.

    “Luckily, I haven’t heard of any issues with redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in our area


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist

    “in row rice, we are starting to see extensive billbug damage across the state.  In some cases, I would call the damage severe. We are trying to come up with solutions to manage billbugs, but that won’t happen before this season ends. 

    “Rice stink bugs (RSB) are also starting to build back up in several fields, and we’re seeing a lot of immatures hatch out in places across the state. In certain fields, a second treatment was necessary, and I think that will continue as the younger rice matures.

    “We predicted heavy RSB populations early, but they didn’t materialize. But I think they are starting to get established now, so scout closely. The threshold in the first two weeks is 5 per 10 sweeps, then 10 per 10 sweeps in the second two weeks of heading.

    “Based on our research, when you see 60% hard dough – 60% straw colored kernels on the panicle – you can quit spraying a clean crop. However, if you’re at treatment level at 60% hard dough, clean it up again.”


    Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

    “We’re probably pushing 75% headed, and I saw a couple of more rice fields being drained this week. With this heat, the rice is taking up a lot of water, so I’m strongly advising growers not to get too lax in pumping. Even if they’re moving towards draining, I don’t want them to start too early and hurt yield potential.

    “As far as harvesting any rice goes, I think a few growers might start cutting samples at the very end of next week, but that’s maybe an optimistic prediction. However, it’s so hot right now that it won’t take fields as long to drain. Generally, once we start draining, it’s at least 2 weeks until harvest starts in that rice.

    “We are seeing more stinkbugs every day, and treatments are going out. We’re also at that time of the year when black birds start becoming an issue, although there’s nothing we can do about that. In my own plots I can tell when the rice is about ready because blackbirds are moving into it.”


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

    “Rice harvest continues in southwest Louisiana, and we’ve cut 65% to 70% of the main crop in this part of the state. We’ve passed the midway point statewide, and our crop looks very good. We just hope the yields hold up for the remainder of the year.

    “We’re also a couple of weeks away from hearing about yields in northeast Louisiana, which accounts for 25% of our crop. The crop in that part of the state does look good. A big portion of northeast Louisiana is in row rice. So, I’m anxiously awaiting word on how it does.

    “I have received a handful of disappointing yield reports that have come in more recently. These were in the lower 40s (barrels/acre), and I think a lot of those fields were flowering when we had that 10 days of high heat and high nighttime temperatures above 75 degrees.

    “We found some blanking in sections of the panicle and also secondary diseases that moved in on the blanked grain,which led us to that conclusion. Again, just a few fields have been in that situation so far, and we hope it’s not too widespread. However, we always expect yields to drop as we move into later-planted rice. Otherwise, the rice crop looks very good overall.

    “The ratoon crop also looks really nice so far and seems to be coming back well.”


    Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

    “I’m waiting on someone to tell me that they’ve stuck a combine in a rice field. That won’t happen today (8/12) because scattered storms moved through parts of the state. But I know that a few farmers are chomping at the bit, hoping to start harvest. Some may begin moving later this week or into the weekend.

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    “A little more rain may fall tomorrow. But after that, conditions should be better for drying the ground.

    “Good temperatures and direct sunlight really helped this crop mature. Some people have mentioned that it looks like the crop is tracking ahead of the DD50 program’s projected drain date. That’s true in a few cases. However, when we rerun the reports with the most up-to-date weather data, the program’s drain date lines up pretty closely to when rice should be drained, based on how it looks in the field.

    “The drain date is based on how the rice progresses to hard dough. On a clay-type soil, we’re looking for at least a third of the panicles to be straw-colored before we drain. On lighter, loamy soils, about two-thirds of the panciles should have reached that color.

    “That said, stay on the conservative side when evaluating a field. If you’re not quite sure the field has a high enough percentage of straw-colored panicles, hold off on draining and give plants another couple of days to reach an acceptable point.

    “The DD50 program’s projected drain date is signaling you to begin determining when to drain a given field. Never start draining based solely on that report. Check the field and judge the grain’s actual progression.

    “Other factors must be considered, as well. How long will it take to drain the field? Some take longer than others. If it’s a zero-grade field, it might drain faster than a large paddy field where water has to move through that series of gates.

    “People are asking about scattered instances of discolored grain, wanting to know if it’s bacterial panicle blight or something else.

    “In every instance we’ve seen so far, it isn’t bacterial panicle blight or another disease. Usually, it looks like physical damage, most likely caused by wind beating the panicle against the flag leaf. We’re seeing some blanked-out kernels and such, and that injury gives parts of the head a weird brownish coloaration.

    “Nothing scary has turned up, but it does unnerve people when they see that.”


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

    “Some rice that’s been drained is probably 10 days away from harvest, and we’re draining more tomorrow, then another group of fields is a week out from draining.

    “Everyone is two weeks behind normal this year. Typically, we start draining in the first week of August, but the big push this year will be in the third week. Two years ago on August 17, we already were cutting rice on our own farm.

    “It all gets back to the wet spring and planting delays.

    “We had to make one trip for rice stink bugs where they were barely at threshold. Disease pressure this season has been minimal. I found a little sheath blight early, but then it turned all hot and dry, and that kind of stopped it.

    “The weather stayed wet, rainy and overcast through July 12. If this had been an early crop, rice would have been more susceptible to sheath blight during all the wet weather.

    “Soybeans are pushing really well. It’s been dry here for the past three weeks, and some areas have gone six weeks without significant rain. Mostly, we’ve just received spotted thunderstorms. Dryland soybeans are really starting to show the hurt from lack of rain.

    “Insect pressure has been almost nothing in soybeans. We sprayed worms in a few spots but haven’t had to deal with stink bugs yet.

    “I hope people don’t turn off water on soybeans too quickly. Plenty of acres weren’t planted until May 1. I know everyone wants to finish irrigating, but a big part of the crop needs one to two more waterings.

    “Most everyone has finished watering corn or are on their last setup. Depending on how the temperatures run, we’re 10 to 14 days from cutting the first field.”

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