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Arkansas Rice Update 6-16-17
Author: Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist

Rice LogoArkansas Rice Update

Dr. Jarrod Hardke, Dr. Yeshi Wamishe, & Scott Stiles

June 16, 2017  No. 2017-13      

Crop Progress

“Like the jitterbug it plum evaded me.”  Not sure why rice prices keep climbing like they are, or why rice is still being planted, but here we are on May 47th…  Maybe the kids will dress up as combines to help with the Halloween rice.  We’re definitely spreading out our planting dates some now!

Another week of warm weather – we finally hit the 90-degree mark.  At least for Little Rock that’s the 6th longest it has taken us to achieve a 90-degree day (one more week and it would’ve set the record).  So we’re finally into true rice growing weather and the crop is showing it for the most part.

As happens this time of season when the crop really kicks into gear, the deficiency symptoms start showing up.  With all the other problems going on and the crop otherwise unhealthy they haven’t been too obvious but now we’re seeing them left and right.


Midseason Nitrogen Fertilization Cont.

Plenty of questions keep coming in about midseason N fertilization timing.  Look over Fig. 1.  To consistently achieve greater than 95% of optimum yield with the midseason N application, we need to be a minimum of 3 weeks after the preflood N was incorporated AND be past green ring.

From the data you can see that being even a little later is just as good and sometimes better.  There is also no appreciable penalty for being pretty late with it.  So 3 weeks after preflood N is the beginning of the window, but applying around 4 weeks after preflood N looks even better.

The data is across 2012-2016 at multiple sites each year.  Only two varieties were evaluated in a given year but over the course of the trials Taggart, Cheniere, Roy J, CL152, and Mermentau have been evaluated.  Remember that midseason fertilization recommendations apply only to varieties, not hybrids.  In addition, issues with preflood N applications and early deficiency symptoms may require deviation from the standard recommendation.

Fig. 1.  Yield response to midseason N timing.

Start Scouting for Sheath Blight Disease as Rice Approaches Reproductive Stages

Scouting for sheath blight rice disease is recommended starting at the green ring developmental stage.  Automatic application of fungicides is highly discouraged due to the potential of fungicide resistance development and non-profitability if applied in the absence or when sheath blight is below the threshold level.  Additionally, correct diagnosis of the disease is important to avoid unnecessary fungicide applications since symptoms of other rice diseases such as aggregate and bordered sheath spot may be confused with sheath blight.

The sheath blight fungus mostly survives as “sclerotia” (tiny masses of fungal structure called “mycelia”) (Fig. 2).  Sclerotia can float on flood water and initiate infection when they come in contact with rice tissues at the waterline.  Infected residue can also serve as a source of inoculum.  Therefore, sheath blight disease of rice can be more severe in flooded rice than row rice.

Fig. 2.  Young sclerotia (white) formed on rice tissues.

The sheath blight disease is favored by warm temperatures and wet/humid conditions.  Under the right conditions, the disease progresses fast both vertically and horizontally.  Application of fungicides twice just to manage sheath blight may not be profitable.

The best timing for a single fungicide application is at boot growth stage.  While one fungicide application is recommended, two applications may be required if the disease starts early and the environment encourages disease progress.  Therefore, continuous scouting starting from green ring until after heading is advised.  Susceptible or very susceptible (“S” or “VS”) cultivars are recommended to be treated at 35% positive stops; and moderately susceptible (“MS”) cultivars at 50% positive stops as shown in Table 1.  You need to meet the threshold for positive stops AND the disease progressing to threaten upper canopy leaves.

Varietal susceptibility level, number of positive stops and weather conditions all must be considered when making fungicide application decisions.  For more details, refer to MP 192 Page 125.  Number of positive stops at field edges should not be used to make application decision across the whole field.  However, field edges which may have been double-drilled, can be scouted for spot fungicide treatment.

Strobilurin fungicides (Quadris, Quilt Xcel, Stratego) are still effective at managing sheath blight disease of rice.  These fungicides can also be rotated with alternative mode of action fungicides such as fluxapyroxad (Sercadis) or flutonil (Elegia).  Refer to MP 154 page 68 for more info on rice fungicides.  Follow the most recent label instructions.  Labels are the law.

Table 1.  Sheath blight disease reaction for selected cultivars and thresholds.

Table 1. Examples of sheath blight reaction on some of contemporary rice cultivars and disease threshold level for fungicide application.

Out Standing in Your Field

Fig. 3.  Select herbicide drift on rice causing loss of main tillers.

Fig. 4.  Newpath tank contamination on conventional rice and the tattle-tale plants.

Fig. 5.  Grape colaspis injury and “bean row effect” on rice that didn’t receive an insecticide seed treatment.

Fig. 6.  Glyphosate drift on rice.

Fig. 7.  Potassium deficiency of rice.

Rice Market Comments

Make it seven.  That’s the number of consecutive weeks the CBOT September ’17 Rough Rice contract has made news highs.  Since trading to a low of $9.65/cwt. on April 28, the September contract has rallied just over $2.10 to Thursday’s high of $11.77.  After a wild 69 cent trading range this week, the September contract closed 8 ½ cents higher on the week at $11.68 ½.

From the perspective of the September weekly chart, the rice market is in a solid uptrend and appears determined to retest the life of contract high at $11.85.  This will be a key price point to watch as previous highs are often resistance levels.

CBOT September 2017 Rice Futures, Weekly Price Chart.

Many growers are trying to decide if now is the right time to make more forward sales or perhaps hedge the 2017 crop with futures.  When looking purely at the weekly chart, taking a “short” (sell) position would appear risky at this point.

The daily chart (below) on the other hand, better illustrates just how frustrating it is to get a handle on where the rice market wants to go next.

CBOT September 2017 Rice Futures, Daily Price Chart.

For example, it appeared Wednesday the September contract was ready to break lower and out of its’ up-trending channel; losing 23 cents on the day.  Was the market now trading the improving crop conditions shown by NASS on Monday or chatter that rice was still being planted this week and acreage losses would not be as severe as originally thought?  By midweek it certainly appeared the market was turning bearish.

Then there was Thursday. Thursday’s wild 45 cent reversal completely erased all of the combined 30 cents of losses seen in the market Monday through Wednesday.  Many market analysts are asking: “What Happened”?   Compared to corn and soybeans, rice seems like an impenetrable, mysterious market that few have any inside knowledge of.  One can only speculate that there is another large export sale in the works or perhaps one actually took place this week.  That information won’t be revealed by USDA until next Thursday.

Still yet, in the opinion of the author at least, the daily chart appears to be taking on a rounded-top appearance—which means the flow of bullish news that carried the market sharply higher in early May is now losing momentum.  Some of the factors that drove prices higher in early May are starting to lose value to the market bulls.  Crop condition ratings are improving.  The actual flood related acreage losses may not be as large as once thought.  As in any market, a steady flow of bullish news is always needed to sustain a price rally.  What will provide that for rice?  Exports?  In Thursday’s Export Sales report, long-grain milled rice showed signs of life and weekly sales hit a marketing year high of 88,579 metric tons.  ADM’s recent 30,000 mt sale to Iraq showed up in this week’s report and was no doubt a psychological boost to Thursday’s trading.  The strong milled rice sales last week were enough to pull sales marginally ahead of last year’s pace for the first time since the 2016/17 marketing year began.

Above all else keep in mind that new crop futures have rallied 95 cents per bushel over the past month. Using the 5-year state average yield, the price run-up since early May is worth about $155/acre.  Without question that is a substantial amount of revenue for any operation.  Rewarding rallies with incremental sales is generally a sound marketing strategy.


Arkansas Rice College is August 3rd

The 2017 Rice College will be held at the Rice Research & Extension Center at Stuttgart, AR on Thursday, Aug. 3.  Rice College provides in-field training & management updates from specialists.  More details to follow.


Enroll Fields in the DD50 Program to Help Time Management Decisions

The DD50 program can be found at  Please let us know if you have any questions or encounter any problems.

Additional Information

Arkansas Rice Updates are published periodically to provide timely information and recommendations for rice production in Arkansas.  If you would like to be added to this email list, please send your request to

This information will also be posted to the Arkansas Row Crops blog ( where additional information from Extension specialists can be found.

More information on rice production, including access to all publications and reports, can be found at


We sincerely appreciate the support for this publication provided by the rice farmers of Arkansas and administered by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

The authors greatly appreciate the feedback and contributions of all growers, county agents, consultants, and rice industry stakeholders.

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