LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Some Arkansas farmers have early-planted rice that is approaching midseason growth. Some farmers are struggling to finish planting their rice. Still other farmers are trying to catch a time between rains to apply their initial nitrogen applications.

"There's still a little rice being planted, but we're near the end of the planting window, which is June 10-20, depending on your location in the state," said Chuck Wilson, rice specialist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

He said pests are relatively light. Rice water weevils have been heavy in a few isolated areas, but relatively light overall. Rice diseases don't usually show up until the reproductive growth stage at midseason, he said. He expects disease pressure to begin intensifying at that time.

"One thing I noticed was that many farmers were in a hurry a couple of weeks ago and tried to fertilize and flood in a hurry to beat the rains. They weren't patient and didn't wait until the soil dried out. Those fields that were fertilized on wet soil are beginning to yellow. The plants have lost nitrogen."

For those fields, he recommends that farmers not wait until midseason, the usual time for a second fertilizer application. "You should go ahead and apply 100 pounds of urea per acre now rather than wait."

Overall, the state's rice crop looks promising considering the adverse weather we've encountered this spring.

"Most of the Clearfield rice fields I've seen are pretty clean with respect to red rice control. We planted almost 50 percent of our 1.4-million to 1.5-million acre crop in the Wells variety. We have Francis on 100,000 acres, and it looks really good."

Wilson estimated that Clearfield is being grown on about 75,000 to 100,000 acres in Arkansas. "This is the first technology we've had where we can use a herbicide, Newpath, to control red rice in our white rice. In the past, we've always had to use soybean rotation. Rotation is effective, but not 100 percent. Clearfield is another good tool. I haven't heard any complaints from farmers."

Wilson said he had gotten a few questions about timing Newpath applications and had heard about a few timing problems.

The rice specialist is concerned about farmers who have been in a hurry and haven't been careful in applying Roundup herbicide to their soybeans.

"A lot of farmers are getting in a hurry trying to beat rain. They're not being as careful as they should in a lot of cases in putting out Roundup on beans and cotton. It's drifting onto rice, corn and grain sorghum. This is a Mid-South problem. I've heard several reports of it in Mississippi."

Some farmers are saying the drift problem is caused by an unusually windy spring, "but I hear that every spring," said Wilson. "Roundup can be put out safely if farmers will take the time to do it when the wind allows."

Meanwhile, Wilson said some fields in northeast Arkansas that were flooded after heavy rains appear to be bouncing back. "Some fields had to be replanted, but a lot of rice, especially Francis variety, has survived and turned around. Rice can take a lot of abuse."

Lamar James, communications specialist, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, (501-671-2187 or ljames@uaex.edu).