I like challenges but not when they come at the expense of a farmer. To say that a lot of rice farmers are faced with very challenging situations would be a tremendous understatement.

Most of the challenges and frustrations are the result of the late crop and results of flood rains and backwater issues. They sure didn’t teach me a lot about that in college.

If a lot of these situations regarding weak stands, stretched rice, part of the field good, part of the field bad, etc., had occurred a month ago, decisions would have been much easier. However, when a lot of decisions had to be made in early June, the best answer was often just have to tough it out with what you have. This sure is not the year for “pretty farming.”

On a brighter note, all is not lost. I am an optimist. Everyone knows that the date-of-planting data bases show early-planted rice will generally yield better than later-planted rice. Because of that, some growers seem to have just conceded that they will have a short crop or even a disaster.

However, in any given year statistics are out the window. Those who have been around drag racing much know that you never bet on a drag race. Your car may beat my car two out of three or even four out of five times, but a drag race is one out of one and anything can happen.

That is the way we have to look at this year. The only thing that matters now is what the weather does for the remainder of this year and the only yield statistic that really means anything is the one for 2009. I am enough of an optimist to believe that if we have a warm fall and dodge the hurricanes, this rice crop can still pleasantly surprise a lot of folks.

Rice is a very forgiving crop and a rag tag-looking mess early can turn into a very nice looking field later on.

This week’s weed is eclipta. It is another of those weeds that loves saturated soils. It is also not controlled by Newpath and Beyond in Clearfield rice. Therefore, the combination of roughly one-half of the rice acres planted to Clearfield varieties and the extremely wet year has resulted in an increased number of calls on eclipta.

In most years, eclipta does not compete well in conventional rice and is controlled with the normal practices used for other the other weeds present — it is usually a non-issue in conventional rice.

However, this year farmers have needed to step up eclipta control efforts in conventional rice. In Clearfield rice, you are often selecting for eclipta due to eliminating most of the other weeds present. Therefore, it becomes much more of an issue and it will tolerate the flood.

A lot of herbicides will control eclipta when it is small. Most herbicide combinations that include propanil are very effective. The fact we are now using less propanil in rice is another reason for the increase in eclipta.

One herbicide of choice in Clearfield rice this year has been Duet. Both the propanil and Londax in the Duet have good eclipta activity and it is a herbicide that is easy on “sick” rice. From the early days of my wife Tomilea’s PhD research, Newpath plus Duet made an excellent all-around treatment if the Duet rate was 4 quarts per acre. Growers this year seem to be more willing to use the higher rates than in the past couple of years.

Other herbicides that can have good activity or suppression on eclipta include Grasp, Regiment, Strada and Storm. Generally, however, I like the propanil combinations for consistency. When the weed gets some size on it, propanil plus Storm is outstanding.

Another call I am getting quite frequently is, “I am surrounded by susceptible crops and have to blow the drift toward soybeans — what is my best option?” Ricestar HT, Clincher, Storm, Basagran, Blazer, Newpath and Beyond are the herbicides that will not hurt soybeans. The trick is often making these fit the weed spectrum.

e-mail: ford@weedconsultants.com