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Delta Farm Press
by Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist - May 5, 2023
“The wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’, I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow.”
The good news is that we have a lot of rice planted. The bad news is that some (most?)
of it is having a rough go of lately.
Rice planted earlier, say late March into the first week of April, seems to have been
further along and large enough to better withstand the cooldown in April. It’s now
growing out of its yellow, ragged appearance and some may go to early flood this week.
Rice planted let’s say 4/7 to 4/15 had its luck run out. It was just emerging into
cool wet conditions and is currently struggling mightily, with seedling disease beginning
to pick up leading to stand loss and having some emergence issues.
Rice planted since 4/20 may be in better shape to perform with improving temperatures,
but depending what rain amounts fields received shortly after planting (some got a
3–4-inch rain), there are major crusting issues and concerns on whether rice will
make it out. It needs a rain to avoid having to flush, with the heavy rain washing
in the drill rows and packing them over the rice.
Keep in mind these dates are generalized to try and capture what’s going on up and
down the state, and with every rainfall event having spotty accumulation, some of
these comments don’t actually apply to all the rice planted in these windows.
With these problems and the extended forecast, we’re in a strange spot for decision-making.
The expectation is for a rainy kind of week upcoming, but for accumulation from each
event to be small – a few tenths each time to total an inch for the week. That may
or may not be enough to keep the soil soft for emerging rice under a crust.
Since it usually takes a couple of days to prepare for and actually get a flush accomplished,
it’s difficult to say whether to move forward with one or to wait on a rain. If levees
are already butted, setting rods and flushing can happen faster; but if they’re not
butted it’s going to be more difficult.
Let us know if we can help.
Fig. 1. NOAA 7-day precipitation forecast.
Variable conditions again this week but there were a few good days for planting.
Most missed the expected rain Friday (5/5) morning, which turned into a wide open
day that looks to continue through the weekend. Meanwhile next week’s forecast looks
like a crapshoot that could stop progress at any moment. We’re likely at 85%+ planted
for the state at this time as a result.
Table 1. U.S. Rice Planting Progress as of April 30, 2023 (USDA-NASS).
Fig. 2. 2012-2023 Arkansas rice planting progress by week (USDA-NASS).
Fig. 3. Blue sprinkles! Early rice fertilized and ready to flood.
Small rice that emerged over the past two weeks has not had the best conditions, with
regular rainfall events and cool weather even for April. Cool weather, slow growing
rice, and wet splashing rains are not a good recipe. Seedling disease has started
to take hold in some fields and may get worse.
Fungicide seed treatments are good insurance but can only be depended on for around
14 days of protection. After that point, rice has to outrun (outgrow) seedling disease
issues. The weather has not permitted rice to get out in front of and stay head of
The upcoming forecast of warmer temperatures will have rice growing better, but cloudy
days will lessen that growth response and the potential for multiple days of splashing
rainfall events doesn’t improve things. If you have a field that is already struggling,
odds are it’s going to be worse by the time next week is through.
There are no rescue treatments at this point. Foliar fungicide applications are not
a viable option – they haven’t shown to have an effect for seedling rice. Starter
nitrogen on 1-3 leaf rice generally doesn’t have an effect at all even when rice is
healthy, but when rice is struggling there’s less chance of it being able to take
anything up and respond. So it’s a waiting game with no magic bullet of spray or
Hopefully it doesn’t come to replant conversations, but I know some of those calls
will be coming in the next week or so given the calls this week. For conversation,
we recommend keeping a stand if you average 3 plants/ft2 on hybrids or average 5 plants/ft2
on varieties. At these levels, we expect to achieve greater than 85% of yield potential.
That 85% may sound low, but when you factor in replant costs, labor costs, additional
chemical costs, etc. plus lower yield potential by replanting a month later, it comes
out better to keep stands at these levels. One additional note – that’s the average
stand we’re looking for but if there are field areas with zeroes for stand, then we
need to talk about whether keeping the field or punting is best.
Fig. 4. Cool, wet conditions causing seedling disease issues.
Fig. 5. Dying rice seedlings as a result of seedling disease.
The DD50 Rice Management Program is live and ready for fields to be enrolled for the
2023 season. All log-in and producer information has been retained from the 2022
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Rice Pathologist
Extension Soil Fertility