Arkansas Rice: Yields Running Strong To Variable

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Harvest conditions are optimal and the outlook is great for the next several days.

With the progress made this week and likely through the weekend, harvest progress for the state should exceed 40% in Monday’s report. We’re still behind the pace from the last several years, but we seem to be finding our way now and catching up can happen quickly (Table 1).

Last week the FSA acreage numbers were updated and showed a further increase in planted rice acres for 2020 (Table 2). The most notable increase was for long-grain acres, now over 1.3 million acres.

Table 1.  Harvest progress by week, 2016-2020.

Year Week 34 Week 35 Week 36 Week 37 Week 38
2020 1 5 10 24 ?
2019 3 11 23 44 61
2018 5 20 33 47 70
2017 11 18 41 59 78
2016 12 31 52 73 84

* Week 35 corresponds with ~Sept. 1 each year.

Table 2.  AR rice acres, USDA-FSA, Sept. 2020.

Type Planted
Long-Grain 1,312,141
Medium-Grain* 122,422
TOTAL 1,434,584

* Medium-grain includes short-grain acres.

There are some outstanding yields being reported out there across flood and furrow-irrigated rice. However, there is a good amount of variability being reported with various potential causes.

Fields were noted showing potassium deficiency throughout the season, and that deficiency combined with increased disease susceptibility (in some cases narrow brown leaf spot), may be part of the problem. Other fields were flowering while they received pop-up thunderstorms bringing wind and rain to affect pollination.   An  excessive  number of blank kernels can be an indicator of that.   Of course,   any

number of factors can also blank kernels.

There was also a relatively short window of high nighttime temperatures that occurred in mid- to late- July that may have impacted the crop as well. This can cause blanking and reduced kernel weight.

All of these issues could have had an effect on fields depending on when they were planted, as planting date seems to be presenting somewhat of a yield rollercoaster this year.

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