Owen Taylor, Editor
Here is this week's issue of AgFax Rice, sponsored by the Southern rice team of Corteva Agriscience


Here is our first issue of AgFax Rice for 2019.   

This marks the start of our 21st season covering rice in the Midsouth and the coastal rice belt of Louisiana and Texas.  

Our thanks to the Southern Rice Team of Corteva Agriscience (formerly Dow AgroSciences) for once again sponsoring our coverage -- marking its 14th year with us.



Rice planting forged ahead in much of Texas and southwest Louisiana. Growers caught windows at the right time and put seed in the ground.

Rains in the Delta continue dragging out field work and planting. Where any rice has been planted, it’s mostly been in drier pockets and on higher ground.

More rain was in the forecast in the Midsouth as we wrapped up this issue on Wednesday. If the forecast plays true, more planting delays are in the cards. How much that affects final acreage remains a question. A couple of our contacts said that the subject of prevented planting is coming up in conversations with growers.

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Amy Beth Dowdy, ABD Crop Consulting, Dexter, Missouri

“A small amount of rice was actually planted on or around April 1 and then a few more acres of my rice were planted in a flurry just in front of rain last Thursday (4/11), maybe 500 acres in Pemiscot and Dunklin Counties. On Wednesday and Thursday morning the wind was blowing seriously hard but we only got 0.3 of an inch of rain, so we lucked out on that.

“Afterwards, growers were mostly able to catch up and spray. A few weren’t for whatever reason, maybe around houses or the wind was blowing from the wrong direction. So, we do have some fields with no preemerge yet.

“It did rain enough over the weekend that water is standing in low ends of some fields. It’s 73 today (4/16) and windy enough to blow my Jeep off the road. Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow night and Thursday. One forecast says it could rain 3 inches, another puts it at 4 inches. We’ll see.

“Things need to straighten out so we can finish getting fields in shape and plant rice. Where rice was planted in early April, it’s coming up and I can row it out in places.

“We went through another spot of cold weather, down to 40 degrees on Sunday night and into Monday morning, but then it warmed up to 63 yesterday. At least it didn’t freeze. We might see a little tip burn but plants didn’t have a full leaf out of the ground, so this shouldn’t be too bad.

“I talked with some farmers today who said corn planted last week was starting to germinate and they thought it would be up by now, but with the cold weather that’s probably a couple of more days out.

“Farmers are getting a bit nervous since it does keep raining and people are trying to determine their options. That includes a little rumbling about prevented planting. One guy who farms next to the Mississippi River said all of that ground is under water. He’s had years when it was mid-May before the water was off, but he says he won’t worry about that until May and then see what his options are.

“He watches the markets pretty closely and says he might plant some soybeans. With the ground he has, he feels like he’d have a better chance of making money on beans with that kind of delay.”


DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas

“We’re really dry over here. Maybe 50% of my farmers’ rice is planted. The guys on the west side of Houston are pretty well done. On the east side, they’re still working ground.

“I expect rice acres to be down quite a bit this year due the price and other factors. It’s been a pretty tough year for some guys to get financing. Harvest last year was a real challenge. With late rains, growers couldn’t get rice out when it was ready. We had logistical problems, too. Acres increased in 2018 and we had good yields, plus all of it was pretty much ready at the same time.

“It was kind of a perfect storm and we ran out of storage capacity early into harvest. Some guys had to sit with drained rice for 3 weeks before they could find a place to carry it. A few hauled rice to central Louisiana to find a place to dry it. Some guys are building their own bins now.

“Overall, it was a nightmare. With all that, rice acres will be down, plus rice prices are deflated, so that entered into the decision. Growers who have an alternative will plant cotton or corn. Those with just rice and cattle will probably plant enough rice to cover their lease ground.

“A percentage of our corn is in but then it turned off dry, so not all of the expected corn was planted. Cotton is now going in the ground to a degree.”


Lance Honeycutt, Sanders, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas

“We had a good run at planting pretty much everywhere the week before last. But then more rain came through except north of Jonesboro. They made some headway up there on rice and corn planting. But we’re probably only 30% to 40% finished with rice planting, overall.

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“Prior to last week it also was still cold, and people focused more on working ground after it was torn up so much with wet harvest weather last year. At least now, fields are prepped. When it dries up next time, people will be heavily planting rice.

“Rice acres here will be down a little, I think. West of Jonesboro and Crowley’s Ridge, people are wondering about the prevented planting option. The Mississippi River and the Black River have already been out of their banks once and we had 3 inches of rain over the weekend, plus they’re calling for more rain on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

“If the rivers get out again, some of that ground may not be planted, at least in rice. A lot depends on how the next 10 days play out.”


Harold Lambert, Consultant, Innis, Louisiana

“Rice planting started today. There was a chance that the Morganza Spillway would have been opened earlier to take some of that water out of the Mississippi River. Our rice acreage is below the spillway and that ground would have been flooded, so rice planting was put on hold. People are going now, though.

“One of the planes flying on rice seed actually crashed today (4/16), too. The plane had some mechanical trouble, I understand, and couldn’t make it back to the airstrip. The pilot is fine, but that may slow planting progress a bit.

“All of our corn has been planted. We caught about a 3-week window on March 16 when the rain finally stopped, and all of our corn went in at about the same time. It’s at V4 to V5.

“Over this past weekend, north Louisiana got bombed by more rain but only about an inch fell here, so we’re not in bad shape. A few soybeans have been planted. It’s still too early to get anxious about planting cotton. We’ll maybe have a little more cotton. With soybean prices where they are, cotton isn’t a bad option.”


Bobby Golden, Mississippi Extension Rice and Soil Fertility Agronomist

“How this next rain goes will determine a lot about where we will be with rice planting this month. It’s still wet enough in places that we’re 5 to 7 days away from getting in the field even if it doesn’t rain again.

“More rain, though, is in the forecast and that could prolong things even more. In the last 3 or 4 years we’ve been planting faster than ever but that won’t be the case this year.

“We did plant a chunk of rice in the last week of March and into the first week of April but have mostly been at a standstill since then. A lot of that rice, in fact, should start poking out of the ground soon, so we’ll see how those fields look. It’s definitely warm enough to bring it up. But just around the station here (Stoneville), it’s still too wet to even do anything in the cotton ground.

“Bolivar County has been one of the drier spots in the state, relatively speaking, so a little headway has been made there. Some progress was made in Tunica County, too. Overall, 25% to 30% of the rice has been planted statewide, and those two counties account for a big portion of that. USDA’s last report had us at 17% planted, but that estimate is low.

“One concern right now is that the hybrid rice seed supply is limited, which would be what growers might want to plant if these delays drag on. If another soaker comes along, it will be the last week of April before we can plant a lot of rice. Again, I know we can plant rice quickly, but I’m still concerned that we could have some pull-back in acres if the weather doesn’t turn drier soon.”


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

“The rice season has moved along pretty quickly in southwest Louisiana. Prior to March 13, we were really wet and expected more rain. But we missed it and then had more than 2 weeks of dry weather.

“A significant amount of rice was planted within the window. In fact, we probably planted 70%-plus of the rice crop at that time. We may be as much as 80% planted now (4/16), and a significant part of that early-planted rice is in the 2-leaf stage.

“Things didn’t look too positive, though, at one point because a lot of rain fell after that dry stretch ended and a good deal of rice went under water. But because it had been so dry up until then, the ground actually soaked in a bunch of that water and we could quickly drain those fields. As a result, we avoided stand problems.

“We expected another big storm on Saturday (4/13) in southwest Louisiana but it mostly hit central and north Louisiana. Down here, we missed the bulk of the rain and are actually in the field today doing some planting.

“Northeast Louisiana got large amounts of rain, so it may be a while before they can get going again. Many of those farmers planted corn first and they hoped to move into rice, but the rain shut them down.”


Jarrod T. Hardke, Arkansas Extension Rice Specialist

“Statewide, we’re about 20% planted. With all the rain, we’ve mainly been hitting the high spots as far as planting goes. The southeastern counties have been heavily inundated with rain. In the prairie region, growers caught a little window and got field work done where they could, then came in right behind it with grain drills.

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“North of Interstate 40, rains partly played out. Maybe a half-inch fell in certain areas up there but 3 to 4 inches accumulated in the lower two-thirds of our Delta counties. Growers, in fact, have essentially finished planting rice and corn in the far northeastern part of the state in Clay and Greene Counties, which are up against the Missouri bootheel.

“More rain is expected on Thursday (4/18). On the positive side, we are into the time of the year when it doesn’t take as long for water to go away. It’s warmer now and we have wind. In places that got 2.5 inches of rain with that last system, the water went away about as quickly as a half-inch of rain did 10 days before.

“When we do finally miss a rain, these soils will dry up fast. I realize the wind will complicate herbicide spraying but on the other hand it will dry things up so we can move back into the field sooner.

“Obviously, a big part of this crop will be planted later than we’d like. How the crop turns out, though, will probably have more to do with how the rest of the season goes. We had similar planting delays in 2013 and 2014 but those were record-setting crops.

“In some fields, it’s been 4 weeks since rice was planted and now it’s time to apply that overlapping residual herbicide. We do need to keep trying to apply herbicides with rain coming so we can gain activation. It will be better to spray and worry about levee issues later. Let’s get the materials out so we don’t have to fight bigger battles later and spend more money on post-emerge programs.

“It’s been cool and wet enough until now that we shouldn’t have much breaking through. But it’s warming up, so those flushes are likely coming as things dry up.”


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

“Of the rice I’m working this year, maybe 5% has been planted and it’s trying to come up. Usually by now we have a considerable chunk of rice in the ground. That’s not the case this year. We’ve had plenty of rain and it’s hard to check rice that’s under water, which has been the case lately.

“In places, we applied Command then received 4 to 5 inches of rain, so I’m not certain how much control we can expect. More rain is in the forecast (as of 4/17).

“Overall, we will have a little more row rice, although I don’t know of any planted yet. I’ll have farmers this year who will grow rice for the first time ever and some who will plant cotton for the first time in 15 or 20 years. With depressed commodity prices, they’re trying to work something else into their operations.

“I’ve cautioned these returning cotton growers that things have changed since their last cotton crop and they should simply follow along with what I tell them to do until they get the hang of things again. Seeing people coming into rice and cotton like this is kind of exciting.

“Growers finished planting corn but not quite all they wanted, and that’s maybe contributed to some of that shift into rice and cotton. Mostly, the corn has done well. I’m keeping up with the DD50s. Despite some of the cooler mornings, corn isn’t running behind what should be the expected pace, and some of the oldest is at V5 now.

“Many thousands of acres of corn were planted in a 7-day period. Gazing into my crystal ball, I see long, long lines at the elevators in August. Hardly any corn has been side dressed yet or been sprayed with atrazine, so I expect a big rush when people can get in the field again. After that, growers will move into planting beans and cotton.

“Only one of my clients has planted any beans, maybe a couple hundred acres. Cotton seed is in short supply, especially in certain varieties, and seed reps say there will only be one go-round with several of the varieties growers booked. So, we’ll hold off on planting cotton until conditions are perfect and we have a better chance of making good stands.

“Hybrid rice supplies are short, too. One retailer said he still has a little inventory in a couple of choices, enough that if someone wants 80 acres of seed, the dealer can take care of him. But if he wants to plant 2,000 acres of it, he’s out of luck.”

AgFax Rice: Midsouth/Texas is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
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