It hasn’t been the easiest early growing season for Delta crops. Dodging rains, producers have often scrambled to find days to plant. Problems have compounded as delays mounted.

Arkansas’ rice crop certainly hasn’t been spared, says Jarrod Hardke, state Extension rice agromist.

“Since the beginning of the season there has been a lot of concern about getting rice planted. That was primarily due to rains. A lot of what was planted early was held up by cool weather. Some of the pre-emerge herbicides, as they were activated, held things up some more.

“After it warmed up, the rains continued and were joined by winds. That impacted herbicide applications and that’s carried on until now --we’re just playing a lot of catch-up.

“The winds just wouldn’t let up. We had persistent, 20-mile-per-hour winds for around two weeks and planes had no business being in the air.”

In turn, all of that “affected the pre-flood fertilizer applications. We fell into a pattern of ‘it’s too wet to get it out on dry ground, which is our target.’ Then, producers had to decide on alternate fertilizer strategies for a number of acres because of the growth stage of crop. It was getting a bit beyond our optimum fertilize-and-go-to-flood term.”

In some cases, says Hardke, there was “a little room and we were able to wait for the ground to dry out. In others, we had to put fertilizer on mud, which isn’t the best practice but is better than putting in into water. Of course, there were also situations where we had to spoon-feed into the water.

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“On days when it’s too windy to spray, fertilizer applications have continued to be made. Well, as a result, streaking has now become apparent in some fields and will cause some issues.”

However, “even though rice has been beat up early, most of it actually looks like it’s been cleaned up well. At this point, considering everything, rice I’ve seen up and down the state looks fantastic.”