Rice Farming

Row Rice Production

Seven factors to consider before trying this system

Dr. Merle Anders

Furrow-irrigated rice, also called row rice, has the potential to reduce input costs and increase net returns under some conditions. A number of Arkansas farmers have tried row rice production, but only a few have been successful. A number of factors should be considered before attempting a row rice system.

1. Do you have a water recovery system? Row rice watering is the same as watering bedded soybeans in that water flows down the field and out at the bottom. Row rice production will result in more water being applied than is the case with soybeans. Being able to capture and reuse that water would be beneficial.

2. What is the field slope? Fields with a greater slope and, thus, fields with many levees are best suited for row rice, provided the slope is not too short. A short slope would mean that the water would reach the bottom of the field quickly and there would be a tendency to shut it off before beds at the top of the field were adequately wetted. If the center of the beds is not wet, plants in that area will suffer water stress.

3. The seeding rates used by farmers growing row rice are similar to those of levee-watered rice, but producers will need to make sure that grain drills are set so that planting depths are acceptable both on the bed and in the furrow.

4. Varieties must have good blast disease resistance and be able to withstand intermittent dry periods. If such varieties are not available, the producer should scout fields and spray when necessary.

5. Poor weed control is the primary reason for crop failures in row rice production systems. It is essential that an aggressive approach be taken on weed control. Residual herbicides, such as Facet, must be applied early and at the maximum rate, preferably with ground application equipment.

Row rice cannot be flooded, thus herbicides that require a flooded field for best results may not work.

6. Fertilizer rates might need adjusting because of nitrogen losses via volatilization. Strategies that reduce volatilization losses, such as Agrotain-coated urea and multiple applications, might be useful.

7. Grain yield might be reduced when compared to flooded rice, but input costs are much less because there will be no levees and harvest times will be reduced.

Dr. Merle Anders is a rice research assistant professor at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, Ark. Contact Dr. Anders at (870) 673-2661 or rrec_manders@futura.net.