Favorable planting conditions earlier this spring have allowed the Arkansas rice crop a very quick start.
“We’re far ahead of normal — probably two weeks,” said Chuck Wilson, Arkansas Extension rice specialist, during the second week of May. “That means we’re nearly a month ahead of where we were at this time last year.
“Because we planted so early, we already have rice that’s fertilized and flooded. Over the next 10 days — provided soils dry out — we’ll be ready to do even more of that.”
Wilson estimated the state’s rice acreage is up to “about 1.6 million acres, maybe 1.65 million.”
Around 90 percent of the rice crop is planted. “We had really good planting weather through April and — if we have good July and August weather — we’re set up for a pretty good yield.”
There have only been a couple of hiccups.
“One is that we had a dry spell for a couple of weeks in April. That let some grasses break through early Command applications. We’ve had to go in those fields and clean up that grass.
“Second, some areas of the state have gotten ample rain in the last couple of weeks. The Poinsett/Cross County area received anywhere from 9 inches to 12 inches of rain. There is a lot of flooding in the L’Anguille River bottoms and some other places, as well. Growers are trying to get the water off those fields.”
Has there been any replanting?
“Some of these fields have already been underwater for 10 days. I’ve seen rice survive after 28 days underwater. I’ve also seen rice die after three days underwater. It’s hard to say what will make it or what will need to be replanted.
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“Of course, just because the rice (that’s been underwater) survives doesn’t mean it won’t be hurt. Yields are often off even though it survives and makes a crop.”
As for dealing early-season pests — especially grape colaspis, a pest on the rise — Wilson says, “We actually got the full Section 3 label for both Dermacor and Cruiser for seed treatments in rice. Both are pretty good insecticide seed treatments.
“Cruiser is probably a little better on lespedeza worms. Frankly, producers with a history of lespedeza worms have used Cruiser and I’ve not had a lot of calls complaining about the product.”
Dermacor “is still a good product, very good on rice water weevils. The (updated labels) have been a positive benefit for our rice growers and we’ve seen some really good stands.”
The biggest issue with stands hasn’t been lespedeza worms but a short drought in April. “A lot of growers planted into moisture, but shallow. Then, the soils dried out and weren’t flushed in time. That led to some skippy, non-uniform stands.”
Wilson and colleagues continue to work on new soil test for rice. Titled “Nst*r” the test “will change the way we make recommendations for nitrogen fertilizer. It’ll make us much more effective and efficient. It’ll provide growers with field-specific recommendations — not just general recommendations like we provide now.
“We still have some validation trials out. We’ll have strip trials across the state in some large blocks. But soon — in a year, or two — we’ll be ready to implement ‘Nst*r’ statewide.”