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Rice Update for the week of June 4, 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:  Summer weather to continue with highs in the 80s to low 90s, scattered rainfall chances with some thought that next week will have a better chance.  We seem to be a month ahead on everything, including the heat.


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

Where it rained, it helped.  We have observed a few fields with phosphorus deficiency symptoms.  The early planted fields are at green ring to ½ inch IE, perhaps 20% of the rice statewide this week.  It is time to start scouting these fields for sheath blight.

We hired a new rice research verification coordinator, Lance Schmidt.  Lance will be headquartered at our Newport Experiment Station and cover primarily NE and east Central Arkansas verification fields.  Welcome to Extension, Lance!

We still have a lot of herbicide injury complaints on the conventional rice fields

Some growers are thinking about ratooning their earliest fields.  For fields harvested around the first of August, you have a shot and while we have no hard and fast guidelines for ratooning in Arkansas, our experience the past few years suggest the following:

  • Get the soil as dry as possible before harvest;  you don’t want to rut up the field.
  • Cut the field and try to leave about 12 inch high stubble.
  • Fly on 100 lb per acre urea and flood it up.
  • Manage the best you can as far as water.

It takes 45-60 days for ratoons to head and if they get ½ way thru grain fill before cold temperatures you will likely make it.  It also may take 30 days after grain fill to dry down again for harvest depending on the weather.

Good luck and call us if we can help.

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

We are still struggling with the widespread injury to our conventional rice varieties and how to manage them to recovery and as much potential as possible.  In general, 90% of these calls turn out to be Newpath-related and most appear to be drift.  Driving around, the best looking rice fields are Clearfield and the worst are conventional varieties.  Clearfield rice plants, either volunteers from the past or from a bit of seed mixed in with conventionals at planting, serve as good indicators of what type of injury the conventional field is suffering from.

Some farmers tell us they will no longer plant conventionals because of the injury problems this year while others plan to do a better job making sure there are soybean field buffers around their conventional rice (all sides); do a better job communicating to neighbors where conventionals are; and using Flag the Technology to mark conventional fields.  Currently, there is no good answer to this situation.

Scott Stiles, Extension Instructor and Economist:

Gulf urea prices continue to slide lower. Most international producers are lowering prices to move product. In the past month, Gulf prices have dropped $125 per ton with prompt delivery barge quotes averaging $520 last week.  Local retail prices are following the same path, dropping $60 to $70 per ton since early May.  With weak grain and energy prices, expect urea to continue lower in the short term.


When our 2012 crop budgets were published last December, we used a diesel price of $3.46 per gallon.  At times this spring that price was too low.  In early March, transport loads were selling for $3.50 or more as planting was getting under way.  Monday (6/4), quotes of $2.94 for a transport load could be found.  As crude oil has crashed from its March high of $110.55 to $81 as of late, diesel has followed along.  Heating oil futures are down about 56 cents or 18% since March of this year and currently trade at the lowest levels since January 2011.


The month of May provided a wild ride (more so a bungee jump) with the September contract trading from a high of $16.13 (May 11) to a low of $14.48 (May 31).  To add some perspective, from high to low, the September contract lost about 74 cents per bushel or a shade over $118 per acre on a 160 bushel yield.  This $118 per acre could equate to a grower’s nitrogen or fuel costs for the entire growing season.  The speed at which these market corrections occur are equally frustrating when you consider the move from high to low occurred in 14 trading days!

The September contract continued its slide Monday (6/4) trading very close to the life of contract low of $13.96 but settled at $14.04.  New crop basis is generally in the range of $1.25 to $1.50 under September futures for August to October mill delivery.  Basis can be as wide as $1.75 under September at some dryer locations.  With futures back down to $14, new crop prices are now in the $5.50 to $5.70 per bushel range.

Given the fact that all commodities performed poorly in May, futures traders are paying a lot of attention to U.S. and world economic indicators.  Too, the U.S. dollar continues to move higher.  The implication of a stronger dollar is a possible reduction in U.S. rice exports. However, the May USDA supply/demand numbers indicate tighter U.S. rice inventories in 2012/13.  Which factor will win out, a stronger U.S. dollar or tighter ending stocks?   At least during the month of May, the dollar and broad-based weakness in grain futures was dominant.

From a technical (chart) standpoint in September rice, we’ve arrived at the place where prices will either make new lows or see a recovery bounce.  This could be an interesting week for commodity prices. Chairman Bernanke will testify Thursday about the economy.  The odds of QE3 have risen as of late.  More economic stimulus could form a bottom in commodity prices.

The next USDA supply/demand report will be released on Tuesday June 12 (7:30 a.m. central) and the NASS Acreage report is due out June 29.  NASS also releases Crop Progress and Condition ratings each Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. central.

Yeshi Wamishe, Extension Plant Pathologist – Rice Research and Extension Center:

We need to start scouting early planted fields for sheath blight this week.

Northeast Arkansas – Ron Baker, Clay County:

Probably 70% of our rice is now fertilized and flooded.  Another 15 to 20% of the crop will be fertilized and flooded this week. Stands are thinner than normal this year in a fairly large number of fields.  This is due in part I believe to very cool weather during emergence and, especially in the case of hybrids, a seeding rate that may be a bit too low for less than perfect conditions.  Fortunately, most of the thin stands have been fairly uniform and good tillering is already beginning to close up the gaps.

Pest problems seem more or less at normal levels for this time of year. The weather has been really dry so we have had to do more flushing than usual but it has not been terribly hot, so flood control has been at least average and yesterday’s rain improved that situation even more.  Overall the crop is looking good at this point.

Northeast Arkansas – Randy Chlapecka, Jackson County:

The overall condition of the crop is still pretty good.  Internode movement began last week on the earliest rice.  The majority of the crop should reach midseason during the next couple of weeks but on the other side of the coin we still have some later rice that hasn’t received preflood N yet.  There are not a lot of significant problems, although we had a couple of calls regarding parts of fields apparently running out of nitrogen.  Also, we are hearing the typical calls on grass escapes for this stage of the crop.

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

Rain has been spotty on the Prairie. Where good showers have been received, amounts range from 1 to 2.5″ and this has been very beneficial. Early rice has reached midseason and some fields are moving out toward 1.5″ internode elongation. Grass escapes and application streaks are showing along with grown up edges in some fields. Some salvage treatments are being made, and irrigation remains near maximum in some areas. Corn and rice next to each other make for a difficult mix when trying to apply permanent flood to the rice while irrigating corn during the hot, dry spell we have had. Chinch bugs have continued to be reported on later planted rice going to flood, and a few fields are showing sick rice (zinc) and are being appropriately handled. We have no reports of sheath blight or other diseases yet.

Pigweeds have grown into Hogweeds in a few fields, and growers are spraying levees in hopes of knocking these back.

East-Central Arkansas – Grant Beckwith, County Extension Agent:

Most rice fields look good and seem to be 6 days or so ahead of DD50 prediction, but this has a way of catching up in our experience.  One consultant reported a bit of sheath blight in one of the earlier fields now at midseason.  We expect about half of the early planted fields to be at midseason this week with lots of fertilization going on.  We also expect attempts to ratoon some of these rice fields if harvested early enough.  A few growers in the past have done this successfully, albeit rarely, depending on early fall weather.  We are not hearing many problems at present.

East-Central Arkansas – Robert Goodson, County Extension Agent:

Overall rice is in pretty good shape. Chinch bugs were found in late planted field in dry areas, but water took care of them.   We have had some more N-ST*R work, and one farmer is trying the recommended rate of 100 units preflood on certain fields and 130 units on others to compare.  Growers remain excited about this new nitrogen management tool, even though urea prices are dropping some.

Southeast Arkansas – Gus Wilson, County Extension Agent:

We have two types of rice fields:  really good or really bad, not much in between.  We could sure use a rain and a bit of rice is still being planted (special situations).

Southeast Arkansas – Wes Kirkpatrick, County Extension Agent:

For the first time this season, most of our rice looks good, and we are establishing permanent flood on most acres. The biggest issue right now is controlling pigweed on levees.  In a few instances where rice was stressed early for whatever reason (mainly salt because of dry weather), we are still a ways off from being able to establish permanent flood. Some of these early stressed fields have pigweed “haired over” in the paddies, and these may get ugly before it is all over.


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

It’s a quiet time currently in MS rice, having caught a few showers of late but still needing some rain in certain areas.  Most early planted fields are at midseason or slightly beyond and we have had a few reports of a bit of sheath blight here and there.  Still a few isolated herbicide drift injury complaints, but overall our crop is in good shape.


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

Other than the ongoing battle with rice blast, things are quiet in the rice crop currently.  Blast is all over the place in south Louisiana, and this will be the worst blast year in a long time the way it has been going.  We still think the fungus over-wintered on a lot of volunteer or surviving rice plants from last year because we did not have a killing frost during the mild winter, and this gave the disease an early start in lots of places.  Then we had rain early to spread it around.  The worst fields appear to be planted in CL261 or CL 151, followed by Jupiter and we have moderate levels in CL 152, Cheniere and Cocodrie.  Our early fields are in booting to early heading and we have been spraying them with fungicide to prevent neck blast as best we can.  Things have dried up quite a bit lately which complicates the disease because some growers have trouble maintaining a deeper flood, which helps minimize blast, but we are still having long dew periods which increases the disease.  Our early fields are clean, even the conventionals (not Clearfield) and this may be the cleanest crop we have had in a while.  Temperatures are milder now, which should be positive for quality on the early fields.


Wendell Minson, Crop Consultant:

Our rice crop generally looks okay with about 80% flooded at present.  This is my cleanest crop ever, although weediness varies a lot in this region from what we can tell driving about.  We have had no early season insect problems and limited herbicide injury issues.  My farmers have had the lowest numbers of rice water weevils in my memory, for some reason.

All questions and comments may be directed to Dr. Rick Cartwright, who can be contacted at:

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