Two distinct rice crops are under way in some parts of the Delta, but yield potential in many areas is strong, despite significant early-season problems with weeds, according to rice consultants surveyed during a recent Dow AgroSciences field day at Stuttgart, Ark.

The growing season “was abnormally wet, according to Ronnie Helms, a consultant in the Stuttgart area. “We planted a bunch of rice early, it turned wet and we had a second planting. Rice harvest will be spread out.

“We have a lot of Francis and a lot of Wells, and we're starting to pick up blast lesions on both varieties (at mid-July),” Helms added. “Sheath blight hasn't been a bad disease this year. We're applying our fungicides at booting to early booting.

“All in all, it's a pretty clean crop, there's probably quite a bit of money in it. There's a lot of yield potential based on the growth.”

A bump up in rice prices which occurred around the middle of July due to continued strong demand for rice “was very encouraging,” Helms said. “We're set up to have a good crop from now until we cut it. If we can keep the hurricanes away.”

According to Mark Maier, a consultant for Stratton Seed, Stuttgart, grass control was the biggest problem facing his customers this growing season. “We had problems controlling grass because of all the rainfall. We couldn't treat it like we wanted to. There were also situations where we should have killed grass, but for whatever reason, it turned into a salvage treatment because of the grass we couldn't kill.”

In addition, “A lot of growers who water-seed rice have been getting by without putting out Icon for water weevils. The water weevils tore them up this year. We learned a lot.”

Yield potential for the rice crop in his area is good, but not as good as last year.

Yields are looking better to Ron Baxley, a consultant in Pocahontas, Ark., especially with the arrival of hot weather. “We went through a lot of wet, cold weather early, and it was hard to get control on the grass. It started raining April 19 and rained until May 20, which kept people out of the fields. So we have a lot of late rice. But it's looking a lot better.”

Disease pressure “has been a little lighter this year. I'm not seeing many stink bugs at this time (July 15).” Baxley believes early-planted rice could be in the 160-bushel to 180-bushel range. Rice planted in June “might make 130 bushels.”

He added that growers “are excited about rice prices, and they're talking about it.”

“After the early rains and difficulty we had, it's starting to turn around,” said Amy Dowdy, a consultant from southeast Missouri. “Weeds were a nightmare to say the least.”

Yields in late-planted rice could be down from last year, “mostly from the weeds and the slow start,” Dowdy said. “Those last fields planted may be fine if we have a hot August and September, no disease develops, and the birds and insects don't move in. The majority of our crop should be at or near yields we had last year.”

“We've got a pretty good rice crop going, said Keith Shelton, a consultant from Lonoke, Ark. “The rice that was planted the end of March to April 1 took a good hit. It stayed cold and our residual herbicides played out. They only lasted three to four weeks. Some rice planted on April 2 didn't come up for a month. Then after that, we had to fight grass.”

Rice planted after April 15 “is in excellent shape. I think we have as good a potential rice crop, or better, than last year.”


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com