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Rice update for the week of May 21, 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:  Hot and dry for the next few days, with highs in the mid to upper 90s forecast for this coming Sunday.  While some of us thought it was May, the climate thinks we are mid-summer.  There is a chance of thunderstorms next week but we won’t hold our breath.


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

Many rice fields are coming around now, after a rough period.  Lots of fertilizing and flooding are being done presently with herbicide drift complaints in certain regions.  Apparently, many of the conventional rice fields in specific areas have been hit by Newpath or other “drift” which holds them back, turns them yellow for a bit, makes them seem to shrink in size and so forth.  Eventually the fields come out of it, but it costs a lot of up front work and worry for these types of varieties.  Many growers plant Clearfield rice out of self-defense these days, since drift etc is so widespread.  

We are hearing a bit about chinch bugs, a little zinc deficiency after flooding, some salt damage in flushed fields where water sources have higher chloride content, etc.  We have had a couple of instances where the field was missed or forgotten to be fertilized prior to flood.  In these cases, the best option for the crop is to drain, dry, apply urea then re-flood, but of course this is a tremendous amount of work.  Some choose to spoon feed into the flood to avoid this, applying urea each week for 3-4 weeks but a lot of it is wasted and the field often ends up with too much or too little, with related problems of course, and yield will never be as good as applying urea to dry soil in most cases.  In some cases, rice is sitting there waiting on water, as soil moisture has gotten too dry for growth so these fields need immediate flushing.  A rain would help greatly, of course.

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

More conventional rice fields are showing up with Newpath drift.  Newpath drift can often be more severe than glyphosate drift because Newpath has both POST and soil activity.  It can take plants longer to metabolize and recover from Newpath than glyphosate.  Newpath injury is characterized by a yellowing of the center tiller and overall yellowing of the young rice plants, severe stunting and failure to respond to a flush.  In fact, fields with Newpath drift will often get worse following a flush or rainfall.  My best recommendations on fields that are to be kept is to dry them up for 2-3 weeks, pray for rain, but flush if you have to and nurse the field back to health over time.  This may take 2-3 weeks.  Costs include: lost yield, delayed flood, added fertilizer and more herbicides because of the delayed flood.

We are getting pretty good reports on the activity of League herbicide and Permit Plus this year.  These were our two new ALS herbicides.  League seems to be providing good residual control of sedges, sesbania and jointvetch when applied pre with Command or early post.  Permit Plus is a better product than Permit alone.  In addition to nutsedge, I have seen the 0.75 oz/A rate of Permit Plus control larger hemp sesbania, smartweeds and eclipta.

It is time to scout many fields for escaped grass.  Pre-flood, I like 24oz/A of RiceStar HT;  it is pretty safe to mix most herbicides with RiceSta. I would stay away from AIM and RiceBeaux because of too much burn and too much antagonism.  It is not too late to control some grasses post-flood.  This is often where Clincher at a full rate 15oz + 0.33 lb of Facet has looked good in my trials.  It needs to be applied in a very shallow flood within 14 days of flooding.  If grass gets bigger it may take a split shot of Clincher (see label).  Regiment is also very effective at controlling large barnyardgrass;  in fact, it is one of the few herbicides I have seen actually take out headed barnyardgrass.  Do not use Regiment past the green ring stage and follow label instructions for additives (UAN + COC or a product like Dyne-A-Pak).

Many fields are ready for an application of 2,4-D where legal.  Remember it is safe to put 2,4-D out after tillering but before 1/2 inch internode.  The DD50 program can provide this information if your field is enrolled in it.

Remember to be careful spraying Newpath and Beyond around conventional rice. Also, avoid drifting glyphosate onto rice, especially if the rice has gone reproductive.  Rice farmers, most ALS herbicides (Permit, Permit Plus, Londax, Regiment, Grasp, Strada, League) will injure soybeans, so be careful out there.  Be sure to utilize the “Flag the Technology” program to identify these crops according to what herbicides they will tolerate.

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

In many areas, we are still looking for chinch bugs as they remain active.  They have sneaked up on a few fields so be aware and scout frequently until the field is flooded.  If suspected, confirm then flush to run them out of the soil and spray to kill.  Now that flooded fields are more widespread, we are assessing early-season rice water weevil activity.  We are not overly concerned, but fields where insecticide seed treatments were not used may be suspect, given the warm overwintering conditions.  Look out for fall armyworm in rice as they are currently moving into fields from the edges where eggs were laid on weedy grasses, including their favorite, barnyardgrass.  While not that bad to date, we recommend keeping an eye for these ravenous worms.

Scott Stiles, Extension Instructor and Economist

Rice Market:

September ‘12 rice futures were off 51.5 cents last week to settle Friday at $15.415/cwt.  Daily futures prices settled lower each day last week except Thursday.  Since May 1, the U.S. Dollar has surged higher. Without over-riding fundamental support from demand or production problems, the Dollar strength is triggering some profit-taking in commodities; wheat was the exception last week moving $1/bu. higher.

The U.S. rice supply situation is comfortable for the moment.  Asian prices are steady to lower.  The path of least resistance last week was lower for rice futures.  Per the May USDA supply/demand estimates, it appears that the U.S. long and medium grain balance sheets will tighten in the 2012/13 marketing year.  For now, the new crop September contract has trendline support near $15.50 and overhead resistance is hitting between $16 and $16.20.


The urea price decline at the U.S. Gulf continues with wholesale prices dropping $70 per ton over the past few weeks. Barge prices averaged $600 per ton last week at New Orleans. Locally, retail urea prices are starting to ease down as well with some distributors reporting prices near $775 per ton last week.  Urea demand from corn acreage is falling.  However, demand is gaining momentum on rice acres and cotton acres will follow. Look for prices to fall slowly, if any, through early June.


This morning (5/21), crude oil traded as low as $91.12 before gaining $1.36 on the day.  Crude prices are trading at the lowest levels since last November and have dropped about $15 per barrel this month alone. Concerns about Iran’s nuclear program have taken a back seat lately to macroeconomic problems in Europe.  Supplies of crude oil seem adequate.  OPEC has been producing oil at the highest level since 2008.  Crude oil inventories in the U.S. are at 22 year highs; fundamentally bearish market.  Heating oil futures are trading at $2.87 as of Monday (5/21).  Some distributors are quoting farm diesel tanker loads around $3.12 per gallon.  Given the sell-off seen since the first of this month, a technical bounce higher would not be surprising.  Watch the nearby crude oil and heating oil futures charts.

Yeshi WamisheAssistant Professor and Extension Rice Pathologist, Rice Research and Extension Center:

We have been asked about spraying hybrids to minimize the smuts.  Our recommendations remain to apply propiconazole as Tilt, Propimax or Bumper at 6 fl oz per acre when the tillers are at early to mid boot.  In most cases, hybrids do not benefit from using fungicides containing strobilurins, like Quadris or Gem, because these are for sheath blight, blast and other diseases that largely do not affect the hybrids, at least economically.  So we tend to focus on the use of propiconazole alone for most hybrid fields.  We have heard of two issues with this approach.  One is that the hybrids are planted at a very low population so the plants have to tiller many times.  So at booting, some tillers will be at the correct growth stage while others will be too young or too old.  Go with the growth stage for the majority of the tillers, that is the best that you can do.  Another issue that growers and consultants tell us about is that Tilt is very hard to obtain any longer and that Propimax and Bumper have also been hard to come by.  Propimax is made by Dow Agrosciences and Bumper by Makteshim.  Both are listed on the company web sites as still available so contact your local dealer to see if these can be ordered in advance of the season.  Good luck.  As always, we remind everyone that the smuts can be minimized by the correct use of nitrogen fertilizer at preflood; that is, don’t overdo it.  

Northeast Arkansas – Johnny WheetleyRice Consultant:

Rice is really recovering from the Newpath or other herbicide drift funk really fast now and is responding well to fertilization, flushing and flooding.  The warm weather is also helping speed recovery.  Conventional fields outside of the drift areas are beautiful by comparison.  The crop still looks like it has good potential, although some pilots say from the air many fields look pretty tough currently.  Fields with silt loam soils at the top end and clay at the bottom have thin stands but should make it.  At least we planted early so we still have lots of time to recover.

Jason McGee, Rice Consultant, Cross and Poinsett Counties:

It remains hot and dry, and we will have to Clincher anything not flooded now.  We are still trying to get some of the conventional varieties to recover from the “drift” in certain regions, while our Clearfield varieties look very good, especially CL 151.  Conventional fields surrounded by Clearfield rice always have complex problems so some growers are consideringplanting straight Clearfield in the future.

Rick Thompson, Rice Consultant, Poinsett County:

We are looking at several fields likely set back by herbicide drift and a couple of CL 745 hybrid fields with injury as well.  We are hopeful that these fields start to recover soon but are being babied now.  CL 111 and CL 151 look very good in the current environment.

Craig Allen and Mike Hamilton, County Extension AgentsPoinsett County:

We continue to examine conventional rice fields with injury or that are “held back” for multiple reasons.  It is certainly too dry in areas and flushing or a rain is badly needed.  Fertilizer continues to be problematic on delivery in some parts of the county where demand is so high that it is hard to keep up.  Fertilizer and flooding are going on as fast as possible though.

There are many complicated symptoms on rice currently and each cause has to be sorted out.  The correct diagnosis can save time and money.

Randy Chlapecka, County Extension Agent – Jackson County

Our rice crop is shaping up pretty good, and we are currently applying some cleanup herbicides, applying urea and flooding.  About half our acres are probably flooded and 75% will be by the weekend.  We are watching clay fields at present and could use a rain, although we are probably not as dry as many areas.

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

We are fertilizing and flooding, and finishing up some of our herbicides.  Wind is still a problem for applicators.  Flooded rice is now responding and turning a nice dark green color with lots of tillering going on, recovering nicely from the initial shock of flood water.  Many of our fields injured by drift are recovering as well.  While we had some problems with drift, it was not as bad as parts of Northeast Arkansas that I observed recently.

Grant Beckwith, County Extension Agent Arkansas County:

Fertilizing and flooding up is everywhere and much of the rice looks pretty good.  We have had a bit of zinc deficiency reported, and our hard-to-spray fields are being done now so they can flood up. It would be nice to catch a rain to the north so our ditches could fill and we could refill our reservoirs as they are already getting lower than we would like, especially for May.  The forecast does not look promising however.

Robert Goodson, County Extension Agent Phillips County:

The rice crop is doing ok, but we have had to flush several times.  Some fields are flooded, and I would rate the crop overall as 8 out of 10.  This has been an expensive crop so far for our growers due to so much flushing and grass control.  And urea at $850 per ton is not helping either.

Southeast Arkansas – Gus Wilson, County Extension Agent Chicot and Ashley Counties:

Rice crop looks pretty good if flooded, but we are still flushing some to try to get the rest up.  We have had some Command injury on the sandier soils and have been flushing in quite a bit of ammonium sulfate to get the rice big enough for flooding quickly.  We are dry so all planting has halted, and we are watering some corn fields for the fifth time this week, and some early planted soybean fields will be watered the second time.  Overall our crops look good.

Wes Kirkpatrick – County Extension Agent Desha County:

Chloride issues have shown up on young rice being flushed.  We checked the water and found it to be low enough to use for flushing so we went ahead, although some wells in the region are getting too high in salts for this purpose.  We are flooding some fields and not real bad problems in rice are being reported.  Pigweeds are a pain in the area, and growers are spending a lot of time and effort to keep any from going to seed, a part of our zero tolerance effort to reduce the seed bank, especially of the herbicide resistant types.  Rice farmers are doing a good job of killing pigweeds showing up on the levees as well, since if these head and produce seed it will complicate future crops grown in rotation with rice.

Chad Norton  County Extension Agent Lincoln County:

Rice looks pretty good with reasonable stands in most fields, probably the best year in a long time for emergence.  We have had to flush a few times to activate herbicides and are currently flooding up many fields.  We have noted a bit of rice water weevil leaf scarring but nothing above normal.  Fertilizer applications are slow in some areas due to demand and urea is still about $845 per ton in this area.

Mississippi– Dr. Nathan Buehring, Extension Rice Specialist:

Most fields are flooded or flooding, and in good shape overall.  We have some complex herbicide drift issues but not that widespread, and most affected fields are recovering.  As usual, we had to manage water according to degree of injury and symptoms. Chinch bugs have been problematic on dry spots in some fields and we have been scouting for them, flushing them out of the soil with water then spraying as needed to control.  Joints are stacking on the earliest planted fields this week.

Louisiana – Dr. Johnny Saichuk, Extension Rice Specialist, LSU AgCenter:

Our rice crop is a mixed bag with the earliest planted rice looking good, while the later planted part of the crop still struggling a bit.  Overall though, the crop is pretty decent and better than we initially thought.  The Northeast Louisiana crop looks pretty good overall.  We have had some early leaf blast in southwest Louisiana, primarily on CL 261 and CL 151 but also on a few other varieties.  Dr. Don Groth indicated that early blast was a result of overwintered disease on volunteer rice, since we never had a killing frost, combined with lots of rain that spread it around in March and early April.  Hopefully, weather conditions will not favor widespread blast as we move forward but these early hotspots are of concern.  We have had calls about herbicide drift and various application malfunctions, but this is somewhat par for the course this time of year.  Urea is still expensive so some growers have switched to ammonium sulfate where the price is right.  At this point, we expect a reasonably normal harvest time.  Ducks are still in the area which is unusual this time of year.

Don Groth, Rice Pathologist, LSU Rice Station and LSU AgCenter:

We have observed severe leaf blast in 4 or 5 commercial fields, the worst being burndown areas in a CL 261 field that we had to spray at late tillering to save the stand.  This is a first for me, this time of year.  CL 151, CL 152, Cypress and other varieties have some level of leaf blast in the affected region and on our station.  In station plots, I have already rated some varieties as 5 out of 9 for severity, and they are fully flooded, so conditions for leaf blast have been extremely favorable.  We suspect overwintered rice plants as harboring the disease to get things started combined with rainy conditions early to spread it around, and we had some replanted areas that were not flooded up as quickly as surrounding fields which likely favored the disease in these spots.

Texas – Dr. Gary McCauley, Rice Agronomist Texas AgriLife:

So far, this looks to be the best rice crop in years, clean and growing fast now.  Most fields look excellent, albeit it will be one of the smallest crops for us in the last century due to water shortages in some areas and too much rain during the planting window in others.  While we don’t know the exact acreage planted yet, we know it will be a small crop.

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

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