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Rice update for the week of May 15, 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.

This week’s update is an abbreviated report.

Weather:  The forecast in Eastern Arkansas for the next 10 days is for warmer weather with the highs in the mid-80s to low 90s and lows in the mid-60s to low 70s.  Chances of rain are 10-20% so right now it looks like dry conditions continue.


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

Based on current reports, rice planting in Arkansas is 99% complete this week with little more acreage planned.  Depending on the area, some fields have been fertilized and recently flooded while most are in the preflood stage.  We have increasing reports of certain fields being slow to recover from the two cool spells we had since about 3 weeks ago and some rice appears to be “stacked”, some terminals damaged, and just “not taking off”.  Herbicide injury combined with cool, wet conditions at times is suspected in some of these fields, although the exact culprit(s) have not been clearly identified.

Based on the DD50 enrollment, about 35% of the acreage in Arkansas was planted in hybrids; 12% CL151; 10% Jupiter; 5% Wells; 5% Francis; 8% RoyJ; 2% Taggart; 4% CL111; and the remaining acreage split between the rest of available varieties.  Concern about production and seed costs changed planting intentions somewhat, resulting in more interest in conventional, public rice varieties.

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

It is turning out to be an expensive weed control season in rice.  Lack of rain has forced a lot of fields to need full rates of propanil, Facet and/or RiceStar HT earlier than I normally like to see them go out.  As much of the rice in the south goes to flood, many more acres are still a few weeks away and a common call is 3-4 leaf rice with tillering grass, and this means RiceStar in conventional fields usually at a full rate (24 oz/A).  This is especially true for sprangletop.  Pigweeds are starting to drive rice farmers crazy.  The most effective treatment I have looked at is some form of propanil at a gallon per acre plus 1 oz of Aim; the next best is grandstand plus propanil.  Of course 2,4-D is the best but often cannot be used due to a multitude of reasons, including restrictions and proper application timing.  A flood will kill the ones in the paddies.

There have been a number of injured or sick rice fields reported.  This is par for the course this time of year.  Rice is a very sensitive to glyphosate drift and non-Clearfield rice is very sensitive to Newpath drift, and I have been in a few fields of both.  I have seen a couple of fields of hybrid rice that appear to have been injured by Newpath applications.  It seems like I see a few of these every year.  In most of these cases, rice can recover.  Newpath on conventional takes the longest.  I have recommended that at least one field of newpath drift be replanted this year due to the severity of the damage.  In many case,s it has been easy to determine that fields have been damaged by Newpath.  Many conventional fields have a few Clearfield seed mixed in.  These plants are easy to pick out following a Newpath or Beyond Drift.

I have been getting some questions about Flexstar carryover to rice.  Milo, corn and rice are sensitive to fomesafen, most to least in the order I just listed.  Last year we put out full rates of Flexstar PRE and got only 10-20% injury.  Lower rates that might represent amounts of fomesafen left after 8-12 months resulted in no injury to rice.

In addition, some consultants and growers have expressed concern over Newpath carryover to conventional rice.  There is an 18 month plantback interval on Newpath to conventional rice.  It does not matter if the rate was 4 oz or 12 oz the previous year, the interval is still 18 months.  Beyond will not carryover to conventional rice the following year, but where Newpath is used you should grow one year of soybean or one of CL rice with no Newpath (this goes against stewardship) or a year of corn (I don’t like that one) before planting conventional rice. My carryover studies, which were conducted on a silt loam with a pH of 5.0 suggested that it does not matter how many years Newpath has been used, only what was used the year before planting conventional rice.  In other words, there is no data that suggests that Newpath “builds up” over time in the soil….but I will admit that I am basing this on limited data.

Remember to use the Flag the Technology system to identify your CL (Yellow) and Conventional (Red) rice fields!!!

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

Chinch bug calls are up the last few days, not only on clay fields but on some silt loams.  Now is the time to look for these pests, prior to flood.  Given the dry conditions, farmers with chinch bug-damaged fields have to flush to run them out of their soil hiding places so they can be sprayed and killed.

We remain on high alert for worms of all types and in all crops, much ahead of normal.

Scott Stiles, Extension Instructor and Economist

As of May 13 the USDA indicated that 99% of the Arkansas rice crop had been planted compared to 97% a week ago, and 60% this week last year.  The early start for this year’s crop and recent improvement in prices has some growers planting additional rice acres.

Since May 1, November 2012 soybean futures and September 2012 rice futures have gone in opposite directions.  In the 10 trading days since May 1, September rice has closed higher 7 of those 10 days while November beans have closed lower 8 times.

In dollars and cents, November beans have dropped from $13.92 to $13.10 since May 1.  This equates to loss of about $37 per acre on a 45 bushel average yield.  September rice started the month at $15.25 and has recently traded as high as $16.135 on May 11.  The contract has given back some of those gains lately and trades near $15.68 on Tuesday (May 15).  New crop rice bids are generally $1.50 to $1.70/cwt. under September futures for August to October delivery.  The basis improves somewhat to $1.15 to $1.45/cwt. under September futures for January to March delivery.

Last Thursday’s USDA supply/demand report provided not only additional price strength but a more favorable long term price outlook for rice.  The September contract traded 41 cents per cwt. higher in response to the May supply/demand Report. New crop (2012/13) long grain ending stocks are expected to drop to 16.6 million cwts compared to the 20.1 million expected at the end of the 2011/12 marketing year. The average farm price for the 2012 crop was projected in the range of $14.50 to $15.40/cwt. compared to the 2011 crop average price of $13.40/cwt.

Though it doesn’t appear to be the case today, the May supply/demand report was also bullish for soybeans.  The USDA’s initial projection for 2012 ending stocks is 145 million bushels compared to 210 million for the 2011 crop year.  Average farm prices are projected to average 65 cents per bushel higher for the 2012 crop and fall in the range of $12 to $14.  The average price for the 2011 crop is currently projected at $12.35.  Given the expected decline in soybean inventories over the coming year, further opportunities to make 2012 crop sales near $14 and perhaps above are still possible.  Upside price potential depends on final U.S. 2012 production and the next South American soybean crop.

The current sell-off in soybeans could be short-lived and simply a technical correction.  November futures have gone on a $2 per bushel run since mid-January re-testing last September’s high of $14.  Ultimately, the soybean market will have to address to prospect of an even tighter supply situation in the 2012 marketing year; as will the rice market.  Even with this month’s sharp drop in soybean prices growers should carefully evaluate switching acres to rice.  For example, a farm’s lease arrangement can have an influence on crop selection.  The table below illustrates how a 75/25 share rent arrangement may favor soybeans at today’s prices.

Comparison of Per Acre Returns for Soybeans and Rice.


Producer Share: 100%

Producer Share: 75%
















Gross Revenue





Variable Costs





Gross Margin





*landowner pays share of drying and hauling.

Northeast Arkansas – Johnny Wheetley, Consultant –

Certain fields in the area continue to struggle to “take off” and grow.  These fields have many plants that are stacked and unable to grow normally.  While herbicide injury is suspected in some, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the injury in some fields.  We are still trying to figure the different scenarios out, but one constant seems to be the cold spell back in April, when certain fields simply have not recovered.  We have observed glyphosate drift on small rice in some areas of late.  “Normal fields” were fertilized and flooded the last few days and seem to be doing well.  One field of RoyJ that was struggling and had “stacked” plants was fertilized and shallow-flooded, and after one week it is doing better.

Jason McGee, Rice Consultant, Cross and Poinsett Counties:

We have fertilized and flooded many of our fields.  Our very early planted fields have continued to struggle but we finally “flush-flooded” these after inspecting the root systems and observing bright white lateral roots.  Some received ammonium sulfate, and in about a week, these fields looked a lot better and are now ready to flood.  In our fields, the root system is a really key indicator of plant health and ability to survive flooding on these complex soil types.

Craig Allen, County Extension Agent, Poinsett County:

We need a rain, as seems usual of late.  Some of our growers are battling weed issues in certain fields and having to use a lot of “salvage” treatments after early season herbicides either did not work as well as hoped or have played out.  Some fields are being flooded at this point.

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

The latest cool spell slowed things down a lot here.  It was 49 degrees this weekend at one point.  We have reports of Newpath drift and injury to conventional rice in places with stunted, stacked plants with terminals burned out and some browning of leaves and burn, as well as onion leaf-rolling.   Fields with accidental Clearfield rice plants growing made the injury agent easy to identify.  We have reports of zinc deficiency in a few fields, and farmers have to respond quickly to keep from losing a lot of plants.  This crop seems to just get ready to get going and a wheel comes off, the latest being the cool spell and now chinch bugs in some areas.

Southeast Arkansas – Gus Wilson, County Extension Agent:

Recent rain was too sporadic, with a few areas getting 1.5 inch but most places getting closer to zero.  A lot of rice looks really good, and we have about 15% of fields fertilized and flooded the past few days but we have some just now coming up good.  Flushing is widespread with the continued overall dry conditions.  Some of our corn fields are on their 4th irrigation already.  We need general rainfall.

Please direct all questions and comments to Dr. Rick Cartwright, who can be contacted at .

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