Arkansas Rice: Planting Finally Takes Off

    The week everyone has been waiting on finally arrived.  The rain event last Friday (4/16) mostly fizzled out and the majority of the Delta has been able to get up and running at full speed most of this week.  More tractors, more drivers, and more daylight seem to be the needs expressed the last few days.

    Proof yet again that we’re never far away from a drought, areas in the state that have missed recent rains can now stand to get a rain Friday/Saturday to return some upper soil moisture.  Of course, there are pockets that have caught some pop-up showers or haven’t dried completely, so not everyone is perfectly pleased with their progress.

    The big talk of the past week of course was the frost event.  Luckily for rice it’s overall cold tolerant, and without an actual freeze will be just fine.  The frost may end up causing some leaf burn appearance on emerged rice or even a week from now you may see striping on the leaf (Fig. 1).

    This striping will be from the rice tissue that was near the soil line at the time of the frost event.  Rice will grow right out of all of these things and keep trucking along.

    Planting progress was up to 26% as of this past Monday (Fig. 2).  Given all the progress in the state, and yes there are folks done or right there at it, we may be 60-65% planted in Monday’s report.  Should that jump happen, that will put us right in the middle of the pack of progress for the past 10 years.  It could also represent the single largest week-to-week jump since 1992 (46% increase in one week).

    We’ll certainly take all the progress we’ve had this week, even more so since the next week looks like a wash.  The entire state is staring at large rainfall accumulations starting with today and additional precipitation the middle of next week (Fig. 3).

    It should go without saying but get those preemergence herbicides out there and activated with these rainfall events.  Temperatures are finally expected to be in the 70s and 80s so rice and weeds will be ready to start moving.

    With all that’s happening, rice acres will still be down for the 2021 season compared to 2020.  The question is, will they continue to fall with corn and soybean prices soaring?  Rice prices are staying competitive, but individual farm situations will tell the tale.

    Cold injury to rice seedlings

    Fig. 1. Cold injury to rice seedlings that may be observed following the frost event this week.

    2021 Rice Planting Progress

    Fig. 2. AR Rice Planting Progress, 2010-2021. Click Image to Enlarge

    NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast

    Fig. 3. NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast. Click Image to Enlarge

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