“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.