Arkansas Rice: Upcoming Week Promising for Planting; Hail Damage to Young Plants

    Planting rice. Photo: USA Rice

    This week has been a mixed bag depending on where you were in the state.  Monday night and Tuesday morning much of the state received rains to stop progress, but certain areas didn’t really have to check up.  Additional statewide rains on Thursday (5/5) will put everyone a few days out from rolling again.  So, while we reached 40% planted as of 5/2, it looks as though we’re probably now around the 50% planted mark.  Even at that, we’re still tracking with our recent slowest years of progress such as 2013, 2019, and 2020.

    The upcoming week easily has the best forecast we’ve seen all year.  At this point, it looks like at least a week of sunny days with temperatures in the 90s.  In fact, we may run into looking for a rain again before long with that much sun and heat coming our way.  If we do get 7-10 days of dry weather to run, we’ll likely knock out most of the remaining rice acres to be planted.

    One concern that will be upcoming is that so much rice that has been planted has emerged or will be emerging now, and it will be more difficult to get remaining fields off to a clean start.  Meaning that fields remaining to be planted may still need burndown herbicide applications and may be in close proximity to emerged rice.

    Be prepared to make difficult decisions for burndown where you may have to make the burndown application prior to planting and separate from your application of residual herbicides after planting.  Simply utilizing tillage prior to planting often does not give the desired result and flips large weeds under only to let them reestablish and come back to cause problems.

    Kick the tires and light the fires – let’s get to business this week!

    New on Arkansas Row Crops Radio this week: Weeds AR Wild Series, S2 Ep 12:  Wet and Rainy Weed Control

    NOAA 7 day precipitation forecast

    Fig. 1.  NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast. Click Image to Enlarge

    AR Rice Planting Progress 2010-2022

    Fig. 2.  Arkansas Rice Planting Progress, 2010-2022. Click Image to Enlarge

    Hail Damage to Young Rice

    There was reported hail damage to seedling rice this week, and since we’ve had a number of hailstorms already this spring, it’s a good time to address the issue.  The good news is that for seedling rice, particularly 5-leaf (V5) or younger rice, it just looks ugly.  In past studies performing simulated hail damage and in more recent studies looking at defoliation in general, there isn’t a yield loss associated with even complete defoliation at these stages.  Within two weeks you’ll be amazed at the number of tillers those plants will have produced to recover from the injury.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    The biggest concern is a delay in maturity associated with the time it takes for the plant to regrow.  Depending on conditions there may not be much delay at all but could be as much as a week delay in heading.  A fertilizer application of AMS or DAP may help encourage speeding up some growth, but not until the rice has recovered, and by that time you may be ready to take it to flood.

    I’m not advocating for the fertilizer application – we’ve observed yields to be equal between plants with no damage and those with 100% defoliation at seedling stages, often with little difference in maturity.  I say keep the fertilizer application in your pocket and let the rice do its thing.

    Hail damage to seedling rice

    Fig. 3.  Hail damage to seedling rice. Click Image to Enlarge

    Rice grain yield at various growth stages with defoliation

    Fig. 4.  Percent rice grain yield at various rice growth stages with simulated levels of defoliation (h/t Nick Bateman). Click Image to Enlarge

    Delay in rice heading at various growth stages with defoliation

    Fig. 5.  Delay in heading at various rice growth stages with simulated levels of defoliation (h/t Nick Bateman). Click Image to Enlarge

    Slow Planting Years and Late Planted Rice

    Slow planting progress isn’t what it once was.  In the last decade we’ve had a number of years with slower planting progress, compared with the handful in the 30 years prior (Figure 1).  Interestingly, the slow progress in recent years hasn’t resulted in the same yield reductions as those in the past.

    This is all to say that later planting of rice still has its problems, but we’ve still been able to achieve excellent yields.  The next week will certainly be extremely important for trying to complete as much rice planting as possible.  Figure 2 shows the grain yield performance by planting date of fields enrolled in the Rice Research Verification Program since 2010.  It indicates what most of the small research data has told us, and that is we have until around the middle of May to still make excellent rice yields.

    Having said that – every operation is different, make the best decision for your operation in terms of planting rice versus an alternative given your situation.

    AR state average grain yield denoting slow planting progress years

    Fig. 6.  Arkansas state average grain yield by year, with a yellow arrow noting years with slowest planting progress. Click Image to Enlarge

    RRVP Field Yields by Planting Date 2010-2021

    Fig. 7.  Grain yield performance by planting date of fields enrolled in the Rice Research Verification Program, 2010-2021. Click Image to Enlarge

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