by AgFax Media LLC, AgFax.com
Farmers are pushing to harvest viable rice in southwest Louisiana. Combines are running in standing water if necessary. This month's rain and flooding are taking an economic toll, aside from the stress imposed on farmers and the ag community. Louisiana State University's most recent estimate of losses in rice is north of $30 million. See comments by Dustin Harrell.
Harvest has either started or is progressing now in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri, as well as in north Louisiana.
The rain is not letting up, and more is in the forecast on a wide basis into the weekend. Talk of a possible tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico has only heightened concerns.
Rice stink bugs remain a nagging threat in late rice in Arkansas. The unpredictable weather and threat of wash-off continues to complicate treatment timing.
LOUISIANA CROP REPORTS
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley: "Some combines were moving this week, and we're seeing them running in water in places. Mostly, it's a foot of water or less, but I know of some locations where combines were in 15 inches of water and pushing a wake out as they moved through the field. I saw one photo on Facebook of a combine running in a field with the water line just below the panicle.
"We're still trying to determine where we are with all the flooding and how much damage it caused in rice. Initially, it was estimated that rice farmers in this part of the state took a $14 million hit. That covered rice that couldn't be harvested, not including loss of the ratoon crop or rice that would have quality issues due to sprouting or other factors.
"The updated number is now around $33 million. In that estimate, 20% to 25% of the rice in those parishes is unharvestable, and 40% to 45% of rice remaining in the fields will have quality issues. The impact ranges from some growers with no real problems to others who sustained major losses on substantial acreage.
"Soybeans were hit harder because none of them had been harvested yet. The LSU AgCenter puts that loss at $44 million, with $101 million across all crops in this part of the state.
"Questions vary, but many people want to know when rice would be considered a total loss. Also, they want to know when they can sell the rice they do bring out of the field. A lot of this will be determined by millers and insurance adjusters. If rice has just started sprouting but hasn't lodged then it probably still has some value. But it's hard to make a blanket statement. Every buyer will be evaluating this crop on a load-by-load basis.
"If rice is on the ground and has a 2-leaf seedling coming out of the head, it's done, and we actually have quite a bit of that.
"We won't make a ratoon crop anywhere that the first crop was lost. If rice stays under water long enough, the plant dies, so it's not coming back. We still do have a lot of ratoon acres that will make it. The rain did prevent growers from properly managing stubble, plus they had to fly nitrogen into standing water, so yields won't be what we'd like to see. But at least we will have a ratoon crop.
"Harvest is approaching or maybe has started in spots in north Louisiana. No yield reports yet.
"We're still watching the weather. The forecast calls for a high chance of rain today (8/25), plus there's a chance for a disturbance in the gulf, which we sure don't need."
Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana: "We made limited stink bug treatments in rice in the last 7 to 10 days (from 8/22). We've drained a little rice and will probably drain a bit more. I haven't seen any sprouting on standing rice yet, but I've heard of some in the area. I'm keeping an eye out for it."