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Arkansas Rice Crop Update for the Week of May 1, 2012
Author: Rick Cartwright, Associate Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources-Cooperative Extension Service

The Rice Update is a weekly summary of what’s happening and what to look for in rice production, based on interviews and submissions of rice experts in Arkansas and the Mid-South.

Weather:  The forecast in Eastern Arkansas for the next 10 days is for continued warm and dry weather, temps in the 80s and lows in the 60s-70s.  We need some rain.


Dr. Chuck Wilson, Director of the Rice Research and Extension Center and Rice Agronomist, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture:

We need more consistent rain or we need to be flushing.  Warm temperatures are helping rice development where moisture is adequate, but in general, rice fields need water NOW.  Wind is still causing problems, delaying applications and sucking out the life out of the soil.

Recent reports of leaf spotting on lower leaves of hybrid and other rice fields may have something to do with the recent cold temperatures (38-43 F) in the state.  Years ago we had some frost damage that looked something like these symptoms.  However, we have not ruled out other causes, and Dr. Wamishe continues to check for fungal diseases etc.  Regardless, new rice leaves are clean and growing without problems so whatever it is seems cosmetic at the worst.

Salt problems on seedling rice is being reported in traditional areas, and pythium seedling disease has been reported in NE Arkansas and SE Missouri.  If the field needs flushing, go ahead and flush – DO NOT worry about making the pythium worse.

We still have not found enough rice to make the 1.1 million acres projected for Arkansas by USDA.  At this point, it appears we could be short of this target, primarily a result of the high price of urea and low rice prices making soybeans much more attractive to growers.

Dr. Bob Scott, Professor and UA Division of Agriculture Extension Weed Scientist:

This week we should finally get to the flushing needed to activate our pre-emerge herbicides.  In some cases, we may have waited too late and other herbicide applications will have to be considered.

DRIFT ALERT!  There are a lot of fields being prepared for soybean planting with “burn-down” applications of glyphosate, glufosinate, and Valor going out.  Drift on to nearby seedling rice fields will result in severe damage or death to the rice.  While glufosinate and Valor tend to burn the rice and it recovers, it is also “set back” somewhat and glyphosate can be lethal on young rice, eliminating large areas of fields if conditions are right.  Be careful with these burn-down applications.

For Clearfield rice fields with 4 leaf or smaller grass, it is time for the second shot of Newpath while fields with 5 leaf or larger grass will need Newpath + Facet or Ricestar.

Dr. Gus Lorenz, Professor and UA Division of Agriculture Extension Entomologist:

We still have armyworm activity in rice, primarily in Northeast Arkansas, and in pastures statewide.  They continue to move out of maturing wheat and burndown fields in some areas.  We hope they will cycle downward in the next week to 10 days. Some producers are spraying pastures to control the problem.  Cutworms are showing up in other crops so it looks to be a busy worm year again.  In fact, bollworm traps show moth levels already of Mid-May or later in previous years, so the insects seem to be a month ahead just like the crops.

CHINCHBUG ALERT IN RICE!  We have several reports of chinchbugs active in young rice, especially on the clay soils.  Unfortunately, they hide in the cracks in this soil type so growers are having to flush the field to run them out of the ground before they can apply insecticides effectively to kill the exposed insects.  Makes life a bit complicated.

We have not heard many reports on grape colaspis so this suggests our seed treatments are working well.  Growers with dying seedling rice should check however, and not assume the cause is salt or pythium without verification.

Dr. Trent Roberts, Assistant Professor and UA Division of Agriculture Soil Scientist:

Don’t Risk Losing Your Most Important Input; Managing Pre-flood N is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Anyone that produces rice knows the importance of N fertilizer for maximizing yields and optimizing profits. It is however a common misconception that “more is always better” or “if 150 units is good then 300 units is even better”. Pre-flood N fertilizer sets your rice crop’s yield potential, and it is very important that the proper measures be taken to maximize your pre-flood N fertilizer use efficiency. In recent years, with unusually hot summers and suboptimal growing conditions, we have started to realize just how important properly managed N fertilizer can be for a rice crop. Pre-flood N fertilizer can often represent the largest line-item expenditure for most producers and with current urea prices bumping $800/ton a producer can’t leave anything to chance. In an effort to inform producers and consultants on how to manage pre-flood N, the following steps have been provided:

1) Always apply pre-flood N fertilizer to a dry soil.

I know that this time of year when things are going hot and heavy it is not always easy to be patient, but waiting an extra day or two for the soil to dry prior to applying N and flooding will pay huge dividends come harvest time. Urea applied to wet or muddy soil can easily lose 50-60% of the total applied N to ammonia volatilization and even when a urease inhibitor is used you can lose as much as 25-30% of the applied N. So the question of the day is obviously – how do you know when the soil is dry? In all fairness this is a judgment call, but if the soil is moist enough for you to leave tracks when you walk through the field it is too wet to apply pre-flood N fertilizer. Now the second question- my field is wet but my pilot says today is the only day he can get to me? If you have to apply your pre-flood N to a wet or muddy soil- and I mean absolutely have too – then make sure and use a recommended urease inhibitor, but let the soil DRY before your flood. I think the last statement is worth repeating- IF YOU APPLY PRE-FLOOD UREA-N TO A WET SOIL USE A UREASE INHIBITOR AND LET THE SOIL DRY BEFORE YOU FLOOD!

2) If you require more than two days to establish a permanent flood use a  recommended urease inhibitor on pre-flood urea.

A quality urease inhibitor that contains NBPT is worth its weight in gold when it comes to mitigating ammonia volatilization losses from urea applied pre-flood. If you are on clay soils or require 2 days or less to flood then you probably will see no benefit from a urease inhibitor. If you are on a silt loam soil and conditions are right you can lose as much as 50% of your applied urea-N in as little as 7 days.  Currently the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture recommends two products for combating ammonia volatilization losses from urea fertilizer – Agrotain and Arborite. These products have been extensively tested in both the lab and field and have been shown to mitigate ammonia losses from pre-flood urea-N applications. Work is currently being conducted to evaluate several other products that have shown promise in other states, but must be proven under Arkansas growing conditions. With the price of urea skyrocketing, several producers have chosen to use a blend of ammonium sulfate and urea because the cost per unit of N is quite similar. Notes to remember when using ammonium sulfate- ammonia volatilization losses are seldom an issue when using ammonium sulfate and there is no need for a urease inhibitor; urease inhibitors are only for urea. If you are blending urea and ammonium sulfate have the dealer treat the urea with a urease inhibitor separately before blending. Do not allow blending the fertilizers and then treat both the ammonium sulfate and the urea, only the urea needs treating.

3) Maintain a permanent flood for at least 3 weeks following pre-flood N application and flood establishment.

An essential part of direct-seeded delayed-flood rice production that allows us to boast the highest N use efficiency of any cereal crop is the ability to apply N in an ammonium form and then lock that N in place using a permanent flood. There are several things that an established and well-maintained flood will do for your N fertilizer management. By applying urea to a dry soil and establishing a flood you are effectively moving the N into the rice root zone where it is readily available for crop uptake. By maintaining that flood for 3 weeks you are ensuring that the N remains as ammonium and does not undergo nitrification/denitrification losses. Research has shown that 3 weeks following flood is the critical time period where the flood has to be maintained in order to maximize N uptake by the rice plant and increase your yield potential. It is best to maintain a quality flood until rice maturity, but if you have to drain try and wait a minimum of three weeks to ensure that the rice crop has ample opportunity to utilize the pre-flood N fertilizer.

Remembering these three easy steps will help increase the N use efficiency for your 2012 rice crop and ensure that your hard earned money is well spent and well used. For those of you utilizing the N-STaR program for N fertilizer recommendations please remember that these guidelines are even more important for you as there is no room for error when managing your N fertilizer inputs. Please refer to your N-STaR report for guidelines on proper pre-flood N management using the N-STaR system.

Scott Stiles, Extension Instructor and Economist

Urea is still about $800 – $840 per ton in NE Arkansas as of last week.  Some growers were able to book urea last fall at $400 – $450 per ton and still have delivery scheduled.  Growers in the Delta are shifting to soybeans as much as possible at this point for obvious economic reasons.

Futures price for rice has risen to about $16.00 per cwt while soybean prices remain strong.  Due to price and input costs, incentive remains to plant beans.

Northeast Arkansas – Johnny Wheetley, Consultant:

We are drying out and my growers ended up planting about 25% hybrids (mostly CL XL 729 with some CL XL 745); about 15% RoyJ, 14% CL151 and 24% Jupiter.   Only about 46% of my grower acreage appears to be in Clearfield this time, largely due to the pressures of higher input costs and the uncertainty of rice prices.

Dry weather continues to complicate herbicide use and effectiveness; some flushing combined with colder weather recently held back some fields, and it has taken a while to catch up.

We may have some pythium in certain fields but minor and leaf spotting from whatever cause is pretty widespread on lower leaves.  Newer leaves are clean though.  Certain fields remain uneven and skippy, and later fields in this area with clay content really need a flush or some of the emerging rice is going to die.

Urea remains high, discouraging rice production.  Where possible, later fields planned for rice are now going to soybeans.  The recent farm bill news combined with these high input costs have really been discouraging to our growers.  Many now face the real prospect that not only a crop failure this year would put them out of business, but also that they cannot even afford a year with low yields.

Randy Chlapecka, County Extension Agent- Jackson County:

Flushing has begun on later planted fields here with skippy stands.  Some fields may have failures at this point, depending on the success of flushing, and we may have to replant rice or switch to soybeans depending on the herbicide programs used originally.

Armyworms are playing out in this area and urea is still discouragingly high.  The recent farm bill news was distressing to our growers as well.

Overall, we need rain.

Jason McGee, Rice Consultant, Cross and Poinsett Counties:

It continues to be dry with lots of flushing going on; some fertilizer is going out, and certain fields may be flooded soon but we need better root systems.  We anticipate some of our high pH fields to develop zinc deficiency under these conditions if we have to flood soon so we need to be aware of field history in this regard.

In this area, skippy stands are mostly on the very early planted fields and some look tough.  Wells is the best looking variety right now, probably a result of its typical early vigor in coming out of the ground.  RoyJ on the gumbos looks really weak, along with CL151.  We have been disappointed in the seedling vigor of RoyJ but are used to weak emergence on CL151.

Pythium went away with warmer temperatures.  There have been a few armyworms near wheat fields in this region and leaf spotting on the older leaves of emerged rice is widespread but fading as new leaves emerge.

East-Central Arkansas – Brent Griffin, County Extension Agent:

Flushing is going hard and heavy, and we are trying to get control of larger grass that snuck up on us during the cool weather.  All rice is planted, and there is now some dirt work to plant a few other fields in the area since it is so early.

Wind remains one of our biggest problems, drying out the soil and delaying needed herbicide applications.  Armyworms are currently staying in pastures and have left the wheat fields from what we can tell.

We have a bit of seedling disease reported in some fields and possibly some grape colaspis in the DesArc area although not confirmed.  Our CL111 fields look awesome to date, and we are going to flood some of these fields this week.

Southeast Arkansas – Gus Wilson, County Extension Agent:

Lots of flushing going on as we finished planting rice the past few days.  We bad need a rain.  Our verification fields look really good and we flushed in ammonium sulfate recently and the rice has really taken off.

Most fields are clean with good weed control.  We have abandoned planting rice in the historical salt areas, favoring excluder type soybeans instead, so we’ve received no salt injury reports to date.

Our soybean acreage is going to be bigger than we thought, and certain growers even backed out of corn at the last minute and will plant beans.  The high urea costs are driving some of the interest in beans.

We started watering corn late last week and Saturday, we badly need a rain, but we have learned not to stress corn here.

Armyworms are still active but mostly in pastures and hay fields right now.  With the winds, paraquat and valor drift injury symptoms are widespread and common on corn in the region.


Nathan Buehring, Extension Rice Specialist, Mississippi State University Extension:

It’s getting dry here, and we are wrapping up rice planting.  Paraquat drift has been spotting up leaves with a few fields burned but likely all cosmetic injury.  Winds were bad last week, and some growers are having to use paraquat extensively to burn down emerged and ambitious pigweeds in the region – moreso than in the past.  The north part of our Delta is drier than the southern half, but all areas could use rain.

Weed control will become more difficult if it stays dry.


Johnny Saichuk, Extension Rice Specialist, LSU AgCenter

It is starting to warm up in SW Louisiana now, and the past week it was so windy we could not spray, but we are getting caught up now with calmer weather.  It appears another dry spell may be in the future though.  We are currently flushing and trying to get to permanent flood, but the southern part of the state remains behind normal in many fields.  Overall it will be a late crop, but we have some very early rice fields and a 3 week or so gap before the rest of the crop was planted.

Northeast Louisiana should be early for their region, given the warm winter there and early spring planting conditions.

We continue to have reports of resistant red rice or other off-types in Clearfield rice systems.  Some of the fields where we identified newpath-resistant red rice two years ago are rotating back into rice this year so we are watching.  There is also some concern about the mild winter and the level of volunteer rice that survived in the region.  We expect some of these plants to be resistant, and they will set seed very early.


Garry McCauley, Rice Agronomist, Texas AgriLife

We continue to try to plant in SE Texas but remain very far behind normal due to the wet conditions earlier.  The Coastal region has been about 50% planted compared to our intentions, for the same reasons – inopportune and consistent rainy spells.  In the Beaumont area, some producers are considering mudding it in or water seeding instead of waiting for dry conditions.

The western rice belt is very dry and lots of flushing going on.  With the smaller acreage here, blackbirds were more concentrated and doing considerable damage to some fields.  They get used to the propane “pop” guns, even with random timers and have become a persistent pest.  Weed control remains good in the area, and fields are starting clean for the most part.

We had projected 120,000 acres of rice for Texas, which would have been the lowest total since 1902, but with problems on the Coast and in the east, it is doubtful we reach this level.

Please direct any questions or issues to Dr. Rick Cartwright, who can be contacted at .

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