Will 2014 be a repeat of the late-planted, lower-yielding, lower-quality crops of 2010 or 2011 or will it be more similar to last year’s record production and higher grain quality?

That’s the question many growers are asking as they wait out the wet conditions that have kept many in the Delta region out of their fields and wondering how long it will be before the soils dry out, and they can begin seeding rice.

“The current soggy conditions and field inactivity have many recalling the late-planted rice of 2010 and 2011,” says agronomist Sunny Bottoms. “Both of these years had excessively high daytime and nighttime temperatures, which resulted in yield and quality loss from panicle blight and pollen sterility issues.

“The 2014 season, however, is shaping up to be similar to last year,” said Bottoms, technical services manager for Horizon Ag. “As an example, from March 1 through April 7, 2013, a total of 153 DD50 heat units were accumulated in the Stoneville, Miss., area. “This spring, from March 1 to April 7, we’ve accumulated about 173 DD50 units.”

Bottoms said Horizon Ag agronomists have also received calls about water seeding. The recommended water-seeding rates on Horizon Ag Clearfield varieties are 65 pounds to 75 pounds of seed per acre. Dermacor seed treatment is recommended for water-seeded rice.

“Some fields have been worked for drill-planted rice, which is not ideal for water-seeding because of the smooth seedbed,” she said. “In these instances, we recommend seed be soaked to promote germination before broadcasting.

Current weather modeling indicates that the area is on a pattern similar to 2013, a season of delayed plantings, yet record rice yields in many areas. Clearfield varieties can perform well when planted into the month of May. In 2013, the maximum relative grain yield potential (RGY) was achieved for CL111 planted on April 29, and for CL151 and CL152 planted on May 16.

It is also good to note the following, says Bottoms:

  • Data collected on CL111 since 2009 shows that average yield has been 93 percent of the relative grain yield when this variety is planted during the April 10 to May 20 window.
  • Data collected on CL151 since 2008 shows that average yield has been 91 percent of the relative grain yield when this variety was planted during the same window.
  • And data collected since 2011 on CL152 shows an average yield of 92 percent of the relative grain yield when planted during the same window.

A substantial amount of field work has been done and several thousand acres of rice has been planted in Arkansas, says Garrett Williams, Horizon Ag sales manager for Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. There has been very little rice planted in Mississippi and Missouri.

“Even though we are in the second week of April, soil temperatures and growing conditions are more like the last two weeks of March. We are still in the optimum planting window and still have time to get the rice crop planted on time. This just seems to be one of those years where we can’t plant based off of the calendar.”

Blackbirds have been observed in very high numbers in freshly-planted fields this spring and are generally a problem wherever rice has been planted. AV-1011 seed treatment is available in Arkansas this year. Once more rice acres are planted this problem should get better.

Horizon agronomists estimate 50 percent or more of the Texas rice crop has been planted, with farmers making progress the past two weeks. The overall Texas acres planted are going to be down again this year due to the water shortage from the Lower Colorado River Authority dams in the Texas hill country.

Louisiana is running late on planting as well but growers have managed to get 60-plus percent of the crop planted in the south and may actually be approaching 75 percent, says Michael Fruge, sales manager for Texas and Louisiana.

North Louisiana is a different story as most of the farmers there are still trying to finish corn and dealing with lots of rainfall. The south Louisiana crop has been a little slow in progressing and most of that can be due to the lack of sunshine.