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Delta Farm Press
by Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist - October 7, 2022
“There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.”
A quarter or less of the rice crop is left to harvest and a change in the weather
is forecast for next week (rain and a temperature drop). Variability seems to be
the best word to describe harvest season this year. The heat over the course of the
summer did its work and depending on planting date and management, yields are bouncing
around. The general trend is a 5% or so reduction in yield, but there are still those
on par with last year and some reporting their best yields. Others have reported
major problem fields.
Last year’s yield record of 170 bu/acre wasn’t expected to be challenged, but it’s
looking more likely that we’ll fall in the neighborhood of 165 bu/acre for a state
average. The remaining late rice to be harvested will likely tell the story on where
we end up, especially with cooler temperatures on the way.
Milling yields have largely held firm with a guesstimate in the 55/70 range (low 50s
to upper 50s common). This is a big improvement over last year that was around a
52/69 with far too much milling in the 40s. Hopefully this improved milling with
lower damaged rice (peck) will help to make up for some of the lower grain yields.
Let us know if we can help.
Fig. 1. 2010-2022 Arkansas rice harvest progress (USDA-NASS).
Preliminary results from the Arkansas Rice Performance Trials (ARPT) small-plot testing
are now available. One site remains to be harvested, but planting decisions are already
approaching for the 2023 season. Note this data is subject to change as we finish
analyzing data. Final results will be published around Dec. 1.
A few notes: all trial locations are managed with a conventional herbicide program
to allow for comparison across all technologies; STF site was harvested at very low
moisture which may have had a greater impact on early-maturing cultivars; CLA and
LAW sites had significant grass pressure resulting in greater plot variability, therefore
results from these sites should be evaluated carefully.
To paraphrase Ray Wylie Hubbard, “False smut, just sounds nasty, false smut, pretty
Especially in later rice, the false smut is very noticeable this year. RT7521FP has
resulted in the most calls, mainly because we have a lot of it planted this year and
it’s pretty susceptible. It continues to pop up even in cultivars that we typically
don’t see it in much.
Remember that even with a properly timed application of a triazole fungicide (propiconazole
[Tilt, Quilt Xcel] or difenconazole [Amistar Top]) you may only see 50% suppression
of false smut. This particular disease is very showy, but even when it appears to
be very bad it isn’t usually yield limiting. It’s often not even impactful on milling,
which is very different from kernel smut.
Well, if it’s not yield limiting then why do my lower yielding spots have a lot of
false smut? Typically because there are other underlying issues in those areas. We generally
see that those areas are pretty rank with overall plant health problems due to conditions,
management, or both. In some cases, it’s clearly low potassium (K) and high nitrogen
(N) rates. Plants low in K have a harder time fending off diseases, but even when
you have adequate K, if you have too much N the plant is out of balance and you can
get results like you are low K. In hybrid rice, you don’t usually see typical K deficiency
symptoms, you just get the problems associated with it.
What about milling? Surely all those spore balls are hurting milling, right? Not much. False smut takes the place of kernels, but even when it looks bad it’s
a small percentage of kernels. Even in high yielding rice fields, 10-20% of kernels
are naturally blank. A healthy plant makes more kernels that it can actually fill
– this is normal. So having a small percentage of kernels lost to false smut doesn’t
necessarily impact yield. As for milling, the spore ball replaces a kernel and is
easily broken loose in the harvest process and can easily be sorted out. This is
very different from kernel smut which occurs inside the rice hull and is impossible
to easily remove from harvested grain.
False smut starts out with a bright orange color but turns to a very dark green, almost
black color, as it matures. So, you can still end up with a black combine from false
smut like you typically see with a kernel smut problem. Given the dry conditions
this fall, the spore balls are drying up and disintegrating which is giving rice a
very ugly look. Once it’s been harvested most of that residue has been blown off
of the rice and samples generally look good.
As with any disease, things can change, so if you’re seeing something different please
let us know.
Fig. 2. Mature false smut on rice.
Draining on time was draining too early in 2022. Nobody could have predicted that
harvest season would remain as hot and dry as it has, but it still caught up with
us. Hence the rule “drain like it’s never going to rain again.” Some rice began
to shut down and cave in or collapse early before grain had dried down. Adequate
water is necessary for a plant to maintain a rigid stalk. Once it loses enough water
(turgor pressure), it will wilt and/or collapse. This helps to explain some of the
untimely lodging/collapse of rice in the absence of any storms.
Speaking of water, this was a reminder of where we have limited irrigation capacity.
We know there are places we must be more careful with row rice, and maybe even alter
our approach to flooded rice.
High Grain Moisture
It’s been hot and it’s been dry, so why won’t this grain moisture drop? Notice how
we don’t have much dew in the morning? Soil moisture is necessary for heavier dews,
and we don’t have much of that these days. What does dew have to do with grain drying
down? Water is hydrophilic – which is to say that water loves water. Ever notice
that when you drain a rice field, it drains off a lot better when there’s more water
in the field? So, with the grain in the field, the outer portion of the grain is
drier and having dew that soaks into the grain will then evaporate off during the
heat of the day and “pull” more moisture out of the grain, helping it to mature.
Right now, that isn’t happening. Think back to when we usually have light showers
scattered through harvest, the grain matures faster when we have humidity, and those
showers occur. For now, the drying down process will remain slow for greener rice
until something changes.
Fig. 3. Near mature rice with greener kernels.
Quinclorac is Rough on Reproductive Rice
Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that late applications of Facet (quinclorac)
to clean up grass did a number on some rice. Quinclorac applied to reproductive stage
rice can have major impacts on our yield potential. There are typically no visual
symptoms on the plant following the application, but at maturity, heads will be blank
(straightheaded) and often there are “twin stems” emerging from upper nodes on the
plant attempting to replace the blanked head.
What we’re seeing from these applications are yield losses ranging from 20-100 bu/acre.
Variability in the response involves exact growth stage of the application, rated
used, and environmental conditions. While there may be some differences among cultivars,
so far, we’ve seen it in some of everything across varieties and hybrids.
A number of years ago there was a publication documenting this possible yield loss
from Mississippi State. Looking at varieties and hybrids sprayed with a full rate
of quinclorac just prior to panicle initiation (PI) up to 14 days after PI, they reported
yield losses of 10-20% depending on the year and timing of application.
The take home message is to not apply quinclorac once rice reaches reproductive growth.
It would be even safer to avoid spraying once rice is nearing reproductive growth.
Bond, J.A. and T.W. Walker. 2012. Effect of postflood quinclorac applications on
commercial rice cultivars. Weed Technology 2012 26:183-188.
Fig. 4. Quinclorac injury to rice causing blank heads and replacement heads.
The Arkansas Rice Advisor site https://riceadvisor.uada.edu functions like an app on your mobile device. There you can readily access the DD50
program, rice seeding rate calculator, drill calibration, fertilizer and N rate calculators,
publications, and more.
Arkansas Rice Updates are published periodically to provide timely information and
recommendations for rice production in Arkansas. If you would like to be added to
this email list, please send your request to email@example.com.
This information will also be posted to the Arkansas Row Crops blog (http://www.arkansas-crops.com/) where additional information from Extension specialists can be found.
More information on rice production, including access to all publications and reports,
can be found at http://www.uaex.uada.edu/rice.
We sincerely appreciate the support for this publication provided by the rice farmers
of Arkansas and administered by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.
The authors greatly appreciate the feedback and contributions of all growers, county
agents, consultants, and rice industry stakeholders.
Rice Extension Agronomist
Extension Weed Scientist
Rice Verification Coordinator
Extension Soil Fertility
Extension Rice Pathologist