By AgFax Media LLC, AgFax.com
Rice harvest continues in the coastal belt of Texas and southwest Louisiana, and lackluster yields remain the norm.
In Arkansas, harvest started on a limited basis this week. Momentum should pick up next week. At least some cutting will likely begin in Mississippi over the next week.
Keep in mind that plenty of rice went in late, even into June. So, any immediate harvest will begin in rice planted in a typical time frame. This year, that's a relatively small portion of the crop. However, this latest round of hot weather has nudged along the later-than-normal plantings.
Irregular emergence in the spring continues to complicate crop management. To an extent, harvest has stalled in southwest Louisiana while growers wait for all the rice to fully mature in fields that otherwise seem ready. Grain is dry enough on plants that emerged early but remains too moist on plants that broke through later.
LOUISIANA CROP REPORTS
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:
"Rice is headed or moving into it, and we're wrapping up fungicide applications. High stink bug pressure developed in rice that headed out two weeks ago, and rain interrupted some of our spraying or reduced effectiveness due to wash offs.
"Growers will drain several fields this week. We're still irrigating row rice. Most of the early rice is running seven to ten days behind normal. The later planted crop caught up very quickly, and rice we planted in early June is headed this week."
Dustin Harrell, Louisiana Rice Extension Specialist, LSU Rice Research Station, Crowley:
"Harvest has moved along, albeit on a stop-and-go basis due to rains. Fortunately, it's been dry through southwest Louisiana for the first couple of days this week. However, the forecast calls for a high probability of rain today (8/14), which will slow up things a bit.
"Yield reports continue to be a little disappointing and are down pretty much across the board for reasons stated in last week's newsletter. High grain moisture also has been holding up harvest in places in both the varieties and hybrids.
"One reason rice seems to be drying slowly is the high variability in the maturity of the rice. That gets back to the uneven emergence early in the year. Current conditions are also playing a part in that. For example, over the past several weeks the relative humidity has run well above 50% most of the time, which significantly slows the drying process.
"If relative humidity had been lower, rice would be drying down faster and more likely would have been harvested by now.
"We're seeing more smut, both false and black kernel, and also are finding sooty mold. Historically, smuts had not been prolific in southwest Louisiana, but frequency and severity have picked up in recent seasons.
"As rice comes off, growers are setting up for the ratoon crop. Typically, our best ratoon yields are from rice harvested before August 15, and we're at that point this week. Obviously, we'd like to be further along with harvest and have more of that ratoon crop set up by now.
"Stubble management is recommended to increase second-crop yields. That can be done by either rolling or by mowing the stubble down to eight inches. Stubble management forces the tillers to develop from the base of the plant. Those resulting panicles tend to be larger and generate more filled grains per panicle.
"Another advantage with stubble management is that less disease tends to follow, especially cercospora. Plus, it evens out maturity.
"However, stubble management can delay maturity by about two weeks. Once you're past August 15, we don't officially recommend stubble management because it does delay maturity.
"Also, we generally recommend 90 lbs/acre of nitrogen applied pre-flood, preferably on dry ground. Start pumping up those fields as soon as possible. In most years, that 90 lb/acre rate gives you the optimal return."