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Delta Farm Press
by Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist - May 14, 2021
“It's been a long, long long year. How did I get here?”
Somehow, we made another jump in planting progress in Monday’s report to 77% (Fig. 1). Considering not much happened in the week prior that’s probably a good indication
of our progress being further along simply by not planting anything. Meaning more
acres are shifting as we sit still.
Equipment had finally made it in the field this week when rains hit on Tuesday, but
amounts were variable across the delta. Returns to the field began Thursday where
possible and the push will continue through the weekend. However, 40-50% rain chances
exist for Monday through Friday next week, so all bets are now off. Should some or
all of that rain occur, we’ll be knocking on June’s door. Right now, the 7-day rainfall
amounts don’t look good (Fig. 2), but let’s definitely hope we don’t see the bullseye shift to the east and drop
some very large amounts.
In the past two years, rice prices were favorable enough over soybean to keep a push
for acres into June, sometimes well into June. That’s not the case this year, though
rice prices have increased, soybean price and the calendar dictate a change. Nobody
wants to harvest rice in November and December, and soybean becomes the safer and
potentially more profitable play.
Fig. 1. AR Rice Planting Progress, 2010-2021.
Fig. 2. NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast.
We’ve been dealing with cool, wet conditions combined with herbicide injury and seedling
disease issues, and this week we’ve added high winds causing rapid drying. Rice appearance
is overall poor at this point, to say the least, particularly earlier planted fields.
In these situations, it’s not uncommon for ammonium sulfate (AMS) or diammonium phosphate
(DAP) applications to be made as ‘starter’ applications to get the rice growing.
Unfortunately, there is not much basis for these applications, and they carry significant
Do not apply any starter fertilizer prior to the full 2-leaf stage. Rice is still
mostly living off the seed until this time and won’t be taking up much prior to this
Do not expect a yield response from a starter application made at the 2-3 leaf stage.
The seedling won’t take enough up to significantly contribute to yield. The small
root system will not take anything up efficiently.
On silt loam soils the growth response from starter fertilizers has been minimal.
You are unlikely to get more than a ‘green-up’ from the application. It might make
you feel better but will cost $25-30 out of your budget (that could be used on something
like additional residual herbicides). There has been some documented yield response
on silt loam soils, but it was at later growth stages (3-4 or 4-5 leaf) when we could
potentially be pushing fields to flood anyway.
On clay soils you can expect a positive growth response from starter N fertilizers.
A direct yield benefit can happen at times, and the time to flood can be reduced,
possibly saving a herbicide application and allowing for earlier harvest.
Occasionally there may be times when it’s advisable to apply a starter when the crop
is not doing well. However, if conditions are cool and the rice is generally not
growing, the N uptake and growth response will be further reduced. Most often, a
flush and better growing conditions are what give us the best crop response, not the
starter. We can all agree we don’t need a flush right now, but more sunshine and
Don’t use the sulfur (S) as justification for the starter application, most soils
on which we grow rice contain plenty of S. Response from AMS is from the N, not the
S. The only exception are fields with known S deficient areas (sandy fields or those
with sand veins) which may need S early and blended with preflood N.
If you do apply starter N, do not count the N units toward your preflood N. Just
act like they aren’t there. The rice plant will only take up, at best, 5-10 units
of N from a starter application but it can be all over the board. Use your normal
preflood N rate.
In step with the other CBOT grains, rice futures turned sharply lower Thursday. News
that barge traffic on the Mississippi river could be shut down for a while was largely
to blame for the selloff. At one point Thursday July corn was limit down. Corn trade
will certainly be most impacted by this event. While originally the Coast Guard did
not say when the river would reopen, as of Friday morning it had already reopened
for barge traffic.
Thursday’s pullback relieved the technically overbought condition in September rice
futures. The market’s push to new highs last week saw the Relative Strength Index
(RSI) reach 80.65. For the time being, trading is finding support on the 20-day moving
average at $13.685 (red line in chart below). Grain trade is higher Friday morning
with corn, soybeans, and wheat all up double digits. Rice futures are up 1 to 3 cents.
At face value, the May WASDE (supply/demand) was neutral for old crop rice and somewhat
bearish for new crop. The only adjustment to the old crop balance sheet was in the
price outlook. The 20/21 season average price was increased 10 cents per cwt. to
$12.60 ($5.67/bu.). This in turn would reduce the projected PLC payment for the 2020
crop by 4 cents to 63 cents per bushel (see bottom of table below).
The initial run of the 21/22 new crop balance sheet could be viewed as slightly more
bearish. Record imports of 31 mln. cwt. were projected. However, long-grain production
is expected to be down 18.6 mln. cwt. based on the 11% reduction in acres from the
March Prospective Plantings survey. It will be interesting to see the NASS June 30 Acreage report.
On lower production and higher prices one generally expects lower usage. Compared
to the 2020, USDA projected new crop exports to be down 2 mln. cwt. to 61 million—lowest
since 1996. Exports from Thailand, Paraguay, Burma, Cambodia, and Pakistan were all
forecast to be higher in the 21/22 marketing year.
Domestic usage is also expected to be down 2 mln. cwt. from last year to 121 million.
This would be the second highest domestic usage total historically. Ending stocks
are projected to increase 1.3 million to 32.1 million—very similar to 2018. Despite
higher ending stocks, average farm prices are expected to remain supported by historically
strong grain prices overall. The projected 21/22 long-grain average farm price is
expected to be $12.80/cwt. –up 20 cents/cwt. from 20/21.
Check out these podcast episodes by following the link or by listening to them on
Arkansas Row Crops Radio wherever you listen to podcasts.
Weeds AR Wild, Ep. 11: Residual Herbicide Activation (5-12-21) (starts at 6:12 mark)
The DD50 Rice Management Program is live and ready for fields to be enrolled for the
2021 season. All log-in and producer information has been retained from the 2020
season, so if you used the program last year you can log in just as you did last year.
Log in and enroll fields here: https://dd50.uada.edu.
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.