When I commented in an earlier article that this was a throw-the-book-out year for rice, I did not realize how much of an understatement it would turn out to be.

Everyone thought last year was something else, but I believe this year has been even more challenging. I conveyed to several people recently that it would be nice to get a call about or one “normal looking rice field.”

Actually the crop appears to be shaping up considerably. The fields that were planted early and did not have flooding problems have been fertilized and flooded. Rice fields always look good when the fertilizer and water first hit them.

Of course, in my business I do not get calls to come look at the pretty fields.

The fields that have been the most difficult to manage are those that have two (at least) stands in them. Parts of a lot of fields had to be replanted, some thin stands were planted back into, and some fields have a mix of drill-seeded and water-seeded rice due to backwater staying over part of the field.

I was in several fields recently that had pretty stands of drilled rice on the top side nearly ready for the flood and water-seeded rice just trying to peg on the bottom side of the field. Herbicide recommendations in those can be quite challenging.

I have been in a lot of these same fields in years past and had no clue the same areas could flood that badly.

The farmers that have fascinated me most during years of flooding are the ones brave enough to drop rice seed into river water as it is (hopefully) receding. I never cease to be amazed that it can work. What crop other than rice can you do that (and some of the other things we have seen this year) and manage to make a crop?

Because of all of the water, aquatic weeds continue to be an issue in a lot of fields.

One thing that has made things somewhat easier in the fields with mixed stands has been a lot of these fields were planted to Clearfield rice. Newpath can provide some aquatic suppression and yet can be used in mixed stands.

I have recommended a lot of Newpath plus Londax to be gentle on the small rice followed by Beyond plus Grasp when the rice was older. While I am concerned that we are planting too much of the rice acreage to Clearfield rice, I have sure been glad to see it this year for the aquatic control reasons if nothing else.

Eclipta continues to cause problems in a lot of fields. Duet has been the herbicide of choice by a lot of consultants early. As it gets larger, Storm can be very effective.

A lot of fields will need a midseason treatment for these weeds plus the normal dockage weeds.

If aquatics and eclipta and dayflower are in the midseason mix, 2,4-D is by far the best midseason treatment where it can be used. Several have commented this year that with the reduction in cotton acres they will be able to use 2,4-D in some fields where they have not been able to in the past.

Most growers and consultants are working through the weed control difficulties amazingly well. Thankfully, we have good herbicides. The problem most are having in the late fields is trying to find treatments that will work in close proximity to susceptible crops — often different crops on different sides of the field — and then catching the conditions right to get the treatment sprayed.

This will no doubt result in grass blowing out the top in some fields. If the grass is primarily barnyardgrass I recommend Regiment where possible. However, with Regiment you can not blow it toward any other crop.

If the grass is sprangletop, I recommend mostly Ricestar HT. It can be safely used near cotton or soybeans but do not blow it toward corn.

If the grass spectrum is a mix of barnyardgrass, sprangletop and broadleaf signalgrass, I usually recommend Clincher plus Facet or Ricestar HT plus Facet. Where Facet can not be used, I recommend Clincher first, but I do not have a lot of confidence in either Clincher or Ricestar HT, alone, postflood in severe barnyardgrass infestations.

Where Facet can be used, it can still be an effective postflood salvage on barnyardgrass and signalgrass, and it especially fits if corn is an adjacent crop.

e-mail: ford@weedconsultants.com