Flushing has picked up in the Midsouth as growers compensate for hot, dry conditions and also push fields toward flood.


In Texas, hot and dry weather is complicating efforts to take more rice to flood. High demand for water is taxing pumps and irrigation districts. See comments by DeWayne Dopslauf.


Rice in the Louisiana-Texas coastal belt has synced up, you might say. Early rice that stalled in cold spring weather came to life when temperatures suddenly surged upward. At the same time, the heat pushed along later planted fields. With all that, a big portion of the gulf crop is at about the same stage of development. So, a significant amount of rice will be ready for harvest at about the same time. Bottlenecks seem likely.


Armyworms are hitting some Arkansas fields. See comments by Jarrod Hardke.


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Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

“We’re going to flood on some fields and flushing a good many more where rice has either made a stand or it’s just been planted. We want to push these plants and also get everything activated. It’s hot and we need to get this rice growing quickly.


“The rice planted within the last month actually looks better than rice we planted at the end of March. That late-March rice is flooded now but it sure struggled. Some of the later planted rice grew more in its first 7 days than that March rice did in its first month.


“Some spraying has started this week to clean up a little grass and weeds. We want to nip it in the bud and go forward with as clean a crop as we can.”


Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“As far as I know, 100% of our rice has been planted. We’ve been addressing a lot of emergence issues and are flushing. In a few spots, we’ve had issues due to drift and some seep water. Growers are touching up in parts of fields but none of those fields have been fully replanted due to drift or seepage. Where we did replant a field, it was because of blackbird damage. Blackbirds have been the worst pest this year and we’ve had a lot of trouble with them in corn.”


Harold Lambert, Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:

“Our earlier rice finally started growing and a fair amount has gone to flood, although we don’t have a lot of those early acres overall. Another round of rice is going in as farmers shut down their earlier crawfish ponds.”


M.O. Way, Texas A&M Entomologist, Beaumont:

“The weather has been warmer, including at night, and the rice is looking better every day. But we haven’t had rain for a while and growers are flushing more and more.”


Amy Beth Dowdy, ABD Crop Consulting, Dexter, Missouri:

“Really scattered showers fell last night (5/16). A couple of tenths to maybe a half-inch fell on a few of my fields. The forecast calls for more rain, and hopefully we’ll get a half-inch on a general basis. Otherwise, people who planted in the last 10 days will have to flush. And if they don’t get another rain a week later, they will have to flush again. A lot of this dirt is as hard as concrete.


“Of the rice I’ll have, 80% is up and 20% was just planted. That last 20% was where rice went behind rice, so growers had to let fields dry down and then work them. We’re trying to move a few fields to flood if we can get them sprayed. That’s maybe 200 acres in total. By next week we may have another 500 acres ready. More could have been to that point but growers don’t have levees up yet.”


Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist:

“Any rain this week was hit or miss, and people are either happy or frustrated. I’ve talked with growers today (5/17) who got a couple of tenths and others who received 3 inches. And then there were those cases where it rained an inch on one end of the farm and nothing on the other.


“In theory, there’s rain in the forecast over the next week, but this seems to be an evolving forecast. As of yesterday morning, no rain was expected, then suddenly in the afternoon a system formed, although the line did break into 2 parts once it got past Little Rock. So, the far north end of the state and the far south end caught good rains but the wider swath of our rice counties got nothing.


“We still have guys flushing and more are getting in that boat at the moment. Just a little flooding has started and a lot of flushing is underway where rice is almost ready for a flood but needs a bit of a jump start to gain enough size. In those cases, herbicides are going out, too, and as soon as they can finish flushing, the farmers will apply fertilizer and begin pumping up the flood.


“In particular, more and more rice is going to flood in south Arkansas. I’m encouraging more of that, even if it’s a little early in terms of rice size. With this heat, that rice will jump fast once the water hits it. If a grower just flushes, he’ll have to wait for the ground to dry up again before he can apply fertilizer.


“The forecast keeps bumping up rain chances for next week. I don’t want folks to hold back on going to flood and then get caught by extended wet weather that delays fertilizer applications. Be conscious about what your extended game plan looks like. Take advantage of openings to flood rice now rather than flirting with fertilizing rice late.


“Also, let’s be mindful of rice water weevils (RWW). With a good deal of this early rice, the neonic seed treatments are close to playing out. Rice was delayed by cold weather this spring, and some of it was planted 45 days ago. That’s what we consider the limit of efficacy for those treatments. If you have rice like that, scout closely as you go to flood for RWW scarring on leaves.



“You’ll need to kill RWW adults before they lay eggs, and you’ve got a very narrow window to do that. Applications need to go out 7 to 10 days post-flood, although 7 or 8 days is preferred. But you need to scout early so you can get applications on the books. If you can’t hit that treatment window, keep the money in your pocket. By then the adults will have fed on rice, deposited eggs and moved on. If you see a lot of leaf scarring as you scout, take that seriously.


“We’re still seeing some true armyworms moving into rice from grassy areas, tree lines and wheat fields. In places, they’ve taken out a paddy or two and are forcing replanting. This is a tricky pest because it feeds at night. During the day, you won’t see it unless you’re looking in cracks and behind clods. In places, they’re down in those cracks eating rice all the way back to the seed.”


Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:

“Most rice in southwest Louisiana is quickly approaching green ring or right at it. We remain in something of a mini drought down here. Conditions are warm but not excessively hot and rice is growing very well.


“For this date on the calendar (5/17), rice looks better than it has for the last 3 years when we faced heavy rains, flooding and cloudy skies. This year, skies are clear and rice is really taking off. Obviously, a little rain would be helpful. We have had very localized popup showers in the afternoons but nothing widespread. At the rice research station, it’s been 31 days since the last measurable rainfall, but on the station’s south farm it rained three-quarters of an inch this week after one of those showers developed.


“Rainfall is way down compared to the extended average and especially what we recorded in the previous 3 years. The only negative for rice is that pumps will be working harder than normal, trying to keep water on fields, and electric and diesel bills may be higher.


“Looking ahead, we could see some bottlenecks at harvest. Although rice down here was planted over a 4-week period, cold conditions stalled growth across a big part of the early crop. But when we suddenly went from winter to summer – like someone threw a switch – all that rice took off and is essentially at the same stage of development as a big share of our later rice. So, all of that will be ready for harvest at the same time.


“With these dry conditions, all the fertilizer has gone out on dry ground so far, and we sure haven’t had that luxury in several years. Pretty much all the rice planted on time in southwest Louisiana is flooded now.


“In northeast Louisiana, the season got off to a wet and late start, but that rice looks really good now, and a big portion is moving toward flood. One producer said he would likely go to flood on some fields this weekend.”


Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist:

“It rained last night (5/16) but mainly in spots and localized areas. In places, it rained enough to fill up ditches but on other farms it didn’t rain at all or hardly enough to settle the dust.


“Anyone not lucky enough to be in those locations is still flushing. People are flushing to incorporate herbicides and move fields toward flood but the rice needs a drink of water, overall. In places, soils also crusted over.


“We’re kind of in a Catch 22 on certain farms. Growers don’t feel like rice is large enough for a permanent flood, but do you really want to wait? I’ve talked to producers who are spraying, then flushing and hoping that the rice jumps enough to start a shallow flood. The idea is to bring the flood up as the rice grows.


“I feel like we’ll be much closer to flood on more acres next week. The earliest-planted rice will be right at flood next week and momentum should pick up with these temperatures and all the flushing.


“A lot of beans have been planted, so drift calls are picking up. Overall, though, the volume has been lower than we’ve come to expect. On the other hand, some cases we’ve looked at are pretty severe. With one notable exception, what we’ve seen has all been due to paraquat. In that one instance, Roundup appeared to be the herbicide.


“This lower number of complaints may have something to do with the environment. With cold conditions this spring, a lot of rice didn’t emerge right away, so maybe it wasn’t exposed when earlier burndown applications went out on other crops. Also, we don’t have as much rice acreage this year.”


DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas:

“My growers are trying to take 85% of this year’s rice to flood. I can’t say that 85% is at flood or necessarily close to it. With this hot, dry weather, the wells and canal capacity are strained due to all the demand for water. Everyone I’ve talked with is behind on flooding rice. Humidity is really low, too, so we’re losing at least a little water to that.


“Where rice hasn’t been planted yet, it’s mostly in organic production, although one guy who isn’t organic just called and asked if we had any seed left. Any conventional fields left to plant would only amount to a small number of acres.


“I can see one potential complication at the end of the season. Cold weather really delayed the early rice. With warmer conditions, that early rice and later rice are now coming together in terms of development. We always like to see rice staggered out, but this year it will all come off at the same time, which will be a problem at harvest.”




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