Tropical Storm Barry has been termed "a major rainmaker" and it will affect at least some rice acres along the Gulf Coast. Depending on its track through the weekend, the storm also might dump rain in the Midsouth.
Based on Thursday's mid-day projection, Barry will come ashore early Saturday morning somewhere along Louisiana's central or eastern coast.
With more of the crop heading now in the coastal rice belt, the last thing anyone needs is a tropical storm (or a weak hurricane, depending on how Barry builds). Heavy rain, wind and flooding would add one more layer of complication to a season that has been anything but simple.
More heads are pushing out in the Midsouth in that smallish amount of acres growers were able to plant in the early spring. But with much of the crop going in later, farmers are still pushing to flood fields that were seeded weeks later.
LOUISIANA CROP REPORTS
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:
"A good deal of rice in southwest Louisiana is headed out, and the focus right now (7/9) is on that tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. It's supposed to move ashore this weekend and the early forecasts call for high rainfall totals, and one model indicates that up to 13 inches could fall around Lake Charles.
"All of that, of course, is subject to change. But when you have headed rice, the last thing you want is a forecast with potential for heavy rain and flooding.
"Enough stink bugs have turned up in places that pyrethroids have gone out and most of the fungicides have been applied. As things look now, it probably will be the last week of July or the first week of August before any harvest starts.
"I'm receiving calls â€“ mainly from northeast Louisiana â€“ about nitrogen timing. Much of the rice up there was planted late because it stayed wet for so long. But with all the hot weather, rice reached tillering very quickly in part of that area, sooner than people may have expected.
"All this has thrown off schedules. Growers there need to pull levees and apply nitrogen as soon as possible, then move rice to flood. All that sure needs to be done ahead of this tropical storm. It's a late crop, for certain. This is the time of year when growers in those parishes are more accustomed to applying fungicides than putting out pre-flood nitrogen."
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:
"We're seeing a little blast. I imagine we'll find a bit more with all the pop-up showers lately. We'll apply fungicides for smut soon, which should take care of any blast. The rice is doing what it's supposed to and taking advantage of these hot days.
"The biggest challenge in rice this year has been killing grass. With that extended dry weather, the grass wasn't growing and herbicides couldn't do much. So, we have grass in spots and we'll be moving towards salvage treatments."