AgFax Rice - Louisiana

By, AgFax Media LLC


Flushing has picked up in the Midsouth as growers compensate for hot, dry conditions and also push fields toward flood.

In Texas, hot and dry weather is complicating efforts to take more rice to flood. High demand for water is taxing pumps and irrigation districts. See comments by DeWayne Dopslauf.

Rice in the Louisiana-Texas coastal belt has synced up, you might say. Early rice that stalled in cold spring weather came to life when temperatures suddenly surged upward. At the same time, the heat pushed along later planted fields. With all that, a big portion of the gulf crop is at about the same stage of development. So, a significant amount of rice will be ready for harvest at about the same time. Bottlenecks seem likely.


Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

"We're going to flood on some fields and flushing a good many more where rice has either made a stand or it's just been planted. We want to push these plants and also get everything activated. It's hot and we need to get this rice growing quickly.

"The rice planted within the last month actually looks better than rice we planted at the end of March. That late-March rice is flooded now but it sure struggled. Some of the later planted rice grew more in its first 7 days than that March rice did in its first month. 

"Some spraying has started this week to clean up a little grass and weeds. We want to nip it in the bud and go forward with as clean a crop as we can."

Harold Lambert, Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:

"Our earlier rice finally started growing and a fair amount has gone to flood, although we don't have a lot of those early acres overall. Another round of rice is going in as farmers shut down their earlier crawfish ponds."

Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:

"Most rice in southwest Louisiana is quickly approaching green ring or right at it. We remain in something of a mini drought down here. Conditions are warm but not excessively hot and rice is growing very well.

"For this date on the calendar (5/17), rice looks better than it has for the last 3 years when we faced heavy rains, flooding and cloudy skies. This year, skies are clear and rice is really taking off. Obviously, a little rain would be helpful. We have had very localized popup showers in the afternoons but nothing widespread. At the rice research station, it's been 31 days since the last measurable rainfall, but on the station's south farm it rained three-quarters of an inch this week after one of those showers developed. 

"Rainfall is way down compared to the extended average and especially what we recorded in the previous 3 years. The only negative for rice is that pumps will be working harder than normal, trying to keep water on fields, and electric and diesel bills may be higher. 

"Looking ahead, we could see some bottlenecks at harvest. Although rice down here was planted over a 4-week period, cold conditions stalled growth across a big part of the early crop. But when we suddenly went from winter to summer – like someone threw a switch – all that rice took off and is essentially at the same stage of development as a big share of our later rice. So, all of that will be ready for harvest at the same time.

"With these dry conditions, all the fertilizer has gone out on dry ground so far, and we sure haven't had that luxury in several years. Pretty much all the rice planted on time in southwest Louisiana is flooded now.

"In northeast Louisiana, the season got off to a wet and late start, but that rice looks really good now, and a big portion is moving toward flood. One producer said he would likely go to flood on some fields this weekend."