Arkansas Rice: Salt With Care – Critical Desiccation Points

Rice harvest. Photo: University of Arkansas

The past few years we have revisited some work on using sodium chlorate as a harvest aid in rice. Roughly 30-40% of acres on average receive a sodium chlorate application to help with harvest.

But there are some critical things to keep in mind to make these applications successful while minimizing risk, including:

  • Complete rice harvest in 5 days or less after application of sodium chlorate. Any longer and heavy dew and/or rain can reduce milling yield. Excessive drying of panicle branches can increase shattering potential and excessive plant desiccation can increase lodging. The greatest losses in research trials have been observed from waiting over 5 days to harvest. You can get lucky if conditions happen to be favorable, but the losses can be substantial if conditions are poor.
  • Do not salt varieties until grain moisture is below 25%.
  • Do not salt hybrids until grain moisture is below 23%.
  • Once grain moisture falls below 18%, do not salt the rice. This is an absolute cut-off for medium grains, especially Titan. Long grains may be able to cheat below 18% but harvest must start immediately.
  • The lower the grain moisture at time of application, the more you should consider using a lower rate of sodium chlorate. A 1- gallon rate of 5 lb material is an effective rate especially at higher moisture rice, but as rice approaches lower ranges, a 0.5-gallon rate may be justified to decrease the risk of overdrying the rice.



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