By Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist
First look at the forecast (Figure below). If you plant rice throughout the rest of this week it’s either going to sit there while it rains for two weeks solid; or worse it’s going to make it out of the ground during this period and be exposed to a lot of splashing rain and cool weather that will increase the chances of seedling disease pressure and potential stand loss. Seed supplies are tight and commodity prices are low so I’m not really interested in either option.
If you feel you must get started because conditions are good enough, consider the following:
Don’t plant hybrid seed. Already low seeding rates and little/no replant seed available is not a good situation in which to plant early rice that may struggle due to low soil temperature and cool, wet conditions. Plus, hybrids hold yield very well later into the planting season. If you can’t help yourself and must plant hybrid now, absolutely do not skimp on the seeding rate, and I would advise not using Command herbicide at this point to avoid injury or slow growth. If you do use it, go with the lowest labeled recommended rate. A better bet would be a delayed PRE of some other options such as Facet or Prowl or Bolero or some combination of those and others.
If deciding to plant a variety right now, the same risks described above apply. However, they are generally a little more cold tolerant and the higher seeding rates and plant populations help to ease some of the issues that can happen when planting this early. But the risks are still there – the only real advantage is that variety yields do decline more than hybrids later in the year so there’s added incentive to try and get them in early. But still use caution!
Consult www.uaex.edu/rice for more tips and information. Ultimately, use sound judgement and try not to plant too much now that you can’t stand to lose (replant). Whatever happens, hopefully it’s better than last year.
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