Arkansas Rice: Rain Delays Return

Uneven rice emergence. Photo: University of Arkansas

Following a week of tremendous progress, we’ve had a week of mostly standing still.  Monday’s planting progress report came in at 44% (Fig. 1) which was a nice jump but nowhere near the 65% I expected to see reported.  I’ll expect the upcoming report to show a further increase to better reflect last week’s progress as little has been done that would move the needle this week.  Progress for all rice producing states is in Table 1.

More rain is in the immediate forecast (Fig. 2).  Following Thursday’s rainfall event which was significant in many areas of eastern AR, more rain is expected on Sunday and Tuesday.  Even the most well-drained fields won’t be in a position to make progress until next weekend should all these events happen.  Suddenly we’re talking about a lot of May planted rice.

In looking for the upside to planting delays, in recent years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020) we’ve planted the majority of our rice after the first of May and have had very high state average yields.

At the moment, our planting progress appears most similar to 2018, which about the time we got into May turned very hot and dry all the way through July.  If you don’t recall, it started to feel like July at the beginning of May and didn’t change throughout the summer.

Rice planting progress

Fig. 1. AR Rice Planting Progress, 2010-2021. Click Image to Enlarge

US Rice Planting Progress

Table 1. U.S. Rice Planting Progress, 2021. Click Image to Enlarge

NOAA 7 day precipitation forecast

Fig. 2. NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast. Click Image to Enlarge

Some Rice Slow to Emerge

This week the most frequent calls have been about rice that is slow to get out of the ground.  In particular, the new DG263L has been slow but to be clear other cultivars have had problems as well.

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We hadn’t observed this in testing with DG263L the past couple of years, but this phenomenon does occur each year with different cultivars and can vary by seed lot.

Ultimately, what I’ve seen I describe as delayed germination or prolonged dormancy.  Meaning that the correct number of seed seems to be germinating, some just seems to remain dormant a little longer before germinating.  So, you may have some rice emerged, but when you start digging you find other seed that has germinated, but it’s not as far along.  It may be aggravating, but it should be short-lived and a full stand achieved.

Yield Potential by Planting Date

Depending on your location and situation, you may have a little or a lot of rice left to plant as we move into May.  The upcoming week looks like another rain-filled one, so it’s time to think about planting date trends for rice.

Table 2 shows the relative grain yield potential (and actual trial grain yields in parentheses) for selected cultivars across a range of planting dates in 2019-2020 at Stuttgart.  We also have planting date studies at Pine Tree, but last year the weather didn’t allow us to plant before April 21 so it’s not included here.

The yields are high, as they can be for small-plot research, so I like to look at relative yield potential which paints a better picture than just bushels per acre from the plots.

There are other cultivars you may be interested in that we may have only tested in 2020 that aren’t included here due to the single year of data.  If you have questions about any others, please give me a call to discuss.

The later we get with planting date, the more critical timely management becomes.  This is largely due to more rapid accumulation of DD50 units (heat) to drive plant growth, which will provide you with fewer days to accomplish management tasks.

Rice relative grain yield by planting date

Table 2. Percent relative grain yield (bu/acre in parentheses) for selected rice cultivars by planting date, 2019-2020 Stuttgart. Click Image to Enlarge




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