by Owen Taylor, AgFax.com
Planting progress varies widely, from areas that are substantially ahead of normal to places where hardly a seed has gone in the ground. Heavy rains delayed planting in parts of north Louisiana and south Arkansas while farmers in southern Louisiana and northern Arkansas made big head starts.
Rice is going to flood in southwest Louisiana, one area that did get off to a rapid start.
Plenty of flushing has been necessary in the Delta in areas where early rains packed the soil. Some showers late in the weak may help with crusting.
Harold Lambert, Consultant, Innis, Louisiana: "A few rice fields around the area have been planted. None of mine have emerged. Progress has been running behind due to the frequency of rains.
"We have finished planting corn and got in most of what we intended to have. With all the rain, we had to stay on light-textured soils. Where we wanted to plant more, it kept raining and remained too cloudy for good drying when it wasn't raining. Our MG IV soybeans aren't entirely planted yet, again due to the rain, and farmers have been working on a piecemeal basis, planting where they can.
"Normally, we'd be through with those early beans by now and probably have 70% of our soybeans left to plant. No cotton planting yet. If we get the rain expected tonight (4/20) and tomorrow, that will push us back further."
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana: "Our rice crop is still up in the air. Not a lot has been planted yet and hardly any is up. With all the rain, we still have areas where fields have been under water for 6 weeks. What rice we will have this year will go in late, which may shift some of that land to soybeans with that market going up a little.
"The only rice I have right now was planted on rows, with the plan to water it down the middles. That's in Tensas Parish, which historically is cotton country and not really set up for rice. A lot of that acreage has been going to corn and soybeans, of course. A farmer – not one of my clients – tried some row rice on 180 acres last year. It did pretty well. One of my growers decided to try it, too, and it's up and going.
"The rain has complicated everything. We've had rootless corn syndrome (RCS) triggered by all the rain and flooding in parts of our area. Of the corn planted at the end of February and first part of March, 82% had to be replanted. We really had to start from scratch on a good deal of it. It rained 15 to 18 inches, and that washed the rows, so we had to re-hip, re-drag and start over. Of what we replanted, 30% of that had to be replanted again, plus spot replanting.
"Corn is still falling over in places where RCS developed. Most guys have at least been able to get corn up but haven't put out fertilizer or much herbicide yet, and certain fields are getting a little wooly. Considering all the replanting and expense, nobody is really excited about corn.
"A modest amount of soybeans have been planted over the last couple of weeks. Some are up but we'll have to replant in places, too, and it's raining again now (afternoon, 4/20). It's hard in these situations to manage pigweed with the herbicides we want to use, plus the burndown went out in January.
"I can't point to any situation where I'd say we've caught a break. Our prettiest corn was in Tensas Parish but a hail storm took it out last Thursday (4/14), and that land will probably go into cotton. To my knowledge, no cotton has been planted yet, although farmers indicate we'll have a little more of it than we did last year."
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley: "We were able to get rice in pretty early this year in southwest Louisiana. By March 15 we probably had 30% planted in this part of the state, which is a really early start. Conditions were warm, and people wanted to take advantage of that. After that initial start, planting kind of meandered with the weather, but by the first week of April planting in this part of Louisiana was essentially completed.
"A lot of rice has gone to flood, too. In fact, some fields planted a little later are reaching flood stage now, just as we're moving into some good rain events.
"I'm getting questions about whether it's okay to apply fertilizer on moist ground. The quick answer is to use an inhibitor and don't apply the fertilizer in standing water. A lot of fertilizer has been going out. However, it is raining again (late afternoon, 4/20), so some people will now wait before they apply more.
"In north Louisiana it's a different story altogether. With all the rain up there, a lot of the expected crop hasn't been planted yet, so that rice will only get later. North Louisiana accounts for about 30% of the state's rice.
"We're seeing some problems with blackbirds where we didn't use a repellant, plus chinch bugs and some nutrient deficiencies have turned up. I'm probably getting more drift reports than normal, and I think a lot of this has been caused by inversions."