Owen Taylor, Editor (601-992-9488)
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Permanent floods have been established on at least some fields in south Louisiana.
Heavy rain early in the week put planting on hold across much of the Midsouth. Amounts ranged from a few tenths of an inch to several inches in certain areas. Heaviest amounts reportedly fell in northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri.
With the rains and flooding, more water seeding appears to have started, especially in areas where water has backed into some areas and growers won’t be able to use ground equipment any time soon.
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Charles Denver, Denver Crop Consulting, Watson, Arkansas: "My growers will have some rice if we can ever get it planted. On Sunday night when all the bad weather developed, we got a half-inch to 4 inches of rain, depending on the location. Lesser amounts fell in our southern area and totals were higher as you went north. Quite a bit of rice has been planted north of the Arkansas River into Arkansas County and a little has been planted around Pine Bluff. If any has been planted in Desha County, though, I haven’t seen it.”
Lance Schmidt, Agronomist, Farm Services, Inc., Hoxie, Arkansas: “Some growers have started sowing rice in water. Before that point we probably got about a third of the expected crop planted. A few guys have said they’re just about done but we also have farmers who haven’t started yet (as of 4/30). Your rate of progress right now mostly depends on the kind of land you farm. If it’s high ground, you’ve probably done some planting. If it’s low, you’re still on hold.
“We had heavy rain starting on Sunday afternoon and have a lot of flooding now. At my house it rained 6.5 inches but I’ve heard reports of areas above us in Missouri that picked up 11 inches. Quite a bit of rice is up in different areas, maybe 25% of our total intended acres. If growers can’t get into fields within a couple of weeks we’ll probably see some switching from long-season varieties to something shorter. Some have already shifted from Roy J to Mermentau.
“The forecast next week does look pretty sunny. A lot of guys in the bottoms are starting to seed by air. With all the rivers full now, drainage won’t be quick, and we’re looking at another month before some of those fields could be planted with ground equipment.”
Johnny Saichuk, Louisiana Extension Rice Specialist, Crowley, Louisiana: "Here in south Louisiana we didn’t get any rain from that last big system and need it right now. Aside from some rain helping us avoid flushing fields, we’re seeing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas where there’s not enough rain to prevent water in the gulf from backing up. One guy who pumps from surface water not far from the Intercoastal Canal said the water he’d use is already too salty.
“Overall, we’re about finished planting in our southern parishes and a lot of rice is at permanent flood. We also have fields being flushed and people are finishing herbicide applications in some cases.
"In northeast Louisiana it’s a different story. That part of our crop is slowly getting planted between rains. I found some more rice water weevils in south Louisiana this week, which means they’re out there. This isn’t especially early for them to appear but maybe a little earlier than we found them last year.”
Brent Batchelor, Extension Agent, Matagorda County, Texas: “Our rice acreage is limited again this year by lack of district water. We’ve got about 2,000 acres, all watered by pumps, and about half is organic and half conventional. It’s all up and looks pretty good, so far. Things are running a little later than normal due to the cool spring but I think we’re catching up pretty fast.”
Hugh Whitby, KC Consulting, Wynne, Arkansas: “A little more than half of our rice has probably been planted and quite a bit of that has emerged, with maybe a couple of thousand acres you’d call at a stand now. We’re spraying fields with residuals and burndowns when possible.
“It’s rained too much on one hand but the rains have been timely enough that we haven’t had to flush anything and the moisture is keeping herbicides active. The way the weather looks for the next 7 or 8 days it should be sunny, but in our area it probably will be this weekend before we can get back in the field.
“Nobody is changing varieties yet due to delays but the subject is coming up in conversations. The only variety we might be concerned about right now is Roy J. If we can’t get it planted within the next 7 days we will likely switch to something with a shorter season. We had a little hail in the last few days but I haven’t seen any damage. We got 2 to 4 inches of Sunday (4/27) when all the bad weather hit the state.”
Scott Holder, Helena Chemical Co., Cleveland, Mississippi: “We’re getting work done in 2-day blocks now and then between rains. We’re not anywhere near finished with rice planting but have made progress when we could and are 40% planted, maybe 45% by now (4/30). Some folks are clearly halfway finished but I also know growers who haven’t started.
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“Some rice is up and looks good. We’re also coming into a couple of nights down into the 40s, so we’ll just have to ride that out. Overall, those little showers haven’t hurt but have at least slowed us down. It’s frustrating on one hand, but on the other hand we haven’t had to flush and haven’t had any of the tornadoes or lost anybody to storms, so we’re thankful for that. Some folks have caught up on herbicides while others were interrupted by rain.”
Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas: “How much planting we’ve done depends on whether it’s high ground or low ground. On the high ground we’re 80% finished and on the low ground and bottoms we’re maybe 60% finished. Some of the rice we lack is where we’re going with rice behind rice in bottoms and it’s pretty nasty. A little rice has been water seeded around us but we haven’t gotten that desperate yet.
“About 3 weeks ago some acres shifted to corn. The Roy J has been hard to get and the medium grain has been even harder to find, and I think most of the medium grain was contracted, so they locked in the seed. We’ll probably plant rice up to May 15-20.”
John Wilson, MRM Ag Services, East Prairie, Missouri: “We got 320 acres of rice planted before that last dose of rain. In that case, the farmer decided to put the seed out with an air truck just to beat the rain. My area received anywhere from 4 to 8.5 inches. Things had actually dried up and ditches were drained down, but that rain came so fast that everything filled up again. Also, the Ohio River is jumping up, which affects our drainage, too. How soon we can start planting again depends now on how soon the water moves off. We have 4 or 5 guys who want to plant rice but it will be a while now (4/30) before they can even consider starting.”
Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist: “With all the rain, we’re pretty much shut down right now (4/30). Just a few people are able to do anything in scattered pockets that missed significant rain. In places, we might have been able to work this afternoon but skies remained overcast, so we didn’t get enough drying to help. At Stuttgart we’d hoped to get in the field again tomorrow but then a little shower fell yesterday, just enough to keep things from drying out as soon as we’d expected.
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“Heaviest amounts of rain this week were in northeast Arkansas and into the Missouri Bootheel where I’ve heard they caught 6 inches or more. So our farmers in that part of the state aren’t just dealing with the rain they received but also will have rivers backed up from all the water flowing down from Missouri.
“I’m being asked to help make decisions about whether to keep some of these early stands. In certain cases seed wasn’t covered up very well and you might have 4-foot gaps between areas with plants, so it’s easy to recommend starting over. In other cases, farmers might find that they’ve got skips but still have germinating seed in what are bare spots right now. Those stands will be uneven at first but later emerging plants should mostly catch up by the time the field is flooded.
“I’m also getting calls about when to cut off on planting certain varieties. We covered that in a blog post that I’d recommend people read for some initial recommendations on that kind of decision. (Editor’s Note: Connect to the post in our Links section below). USDA had us at 47% planted in its last report. My feeling is that we’re not at 60% but someplace past 50%.”
Bobby Golden, Interim Mississippi Extension Rice Specialist: “Depending on the location, we’ve gotten 0.3 to almost 2 inches of rain from this last system and sometimes you can find those differences almost right across the turnrow – the rain has been that variable in parts of the Delta.
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“It’s rained somewhat less in the north Delta and some people there have been able to wrap up planting. But even then it’s hard to generalize because there are folks in that area who got more rain and still haven’t been able to start. I’ve only heard of one farmer who’s turning back rice seed and that was on limited acreage. Most of our guys still want to get a crop in and are making progress as they can. In places, growers have 2- and 3-leaf rice and have already made herbicides applications. They’re catching good rains, and that rice is off and running.
“I won't be surprised to get calls asking about switching varieties, with the idea that some growers might want to move away from longer-season choices if we hit further delays. I've addressed late planting issues in a post on our blog to help people weigh some of those decisions.” (Editor’s Note: Connect to the blog post in our Links section below.)
M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont: “Last week we found what we initially thought were wireworms in germinating rice but upon closer examination we found that they were rootworms, although we’re not sure precisely which one. This is the first time I’ve ever found rootworms in rice, plus they’ve turned up in grain sorghum this year, which also is new for me.
“In rice, this was in high organic soil in a field that had some other issues, including seedling disease. A consultant west of Houston reported finding what he thinks are wireworms on some rice land he checks. The guy is a pretty good entomologist but I won’t be surprised if they turn out to be rootworms. Once plants move past the seedling stage, these larvae shouldn’t be a problem. They’re a stand reducer, and going to flood should take out any still out there.
“Rice is starting to look much better with the warmer weather now. Anything planted lately is jumping out of the ground. As of April 25, 80% of our crop has been planted, with 66% emerged. It’s still been very dry and, even with somewhat warmer conditions, cool weather has still been with us. In the last couple of days we’ve had mornings in the high 40s to low 50s. Winds have been very high, which is playing havoc with aerial application.”
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