Consider these management tips for late-planted rice

• By Jarrod Hardke •

Rice drills continue to roll up and down eastern Arkansas. I think most are very aware we’ve been on the slowest planting pace in 25 years to get us here focusing on late May to early June planted rice. While most have already made their decision, and the weather may finish off planting in the coming week, let’s review some management considerations.

Yield potential

planting date study
Table 1. Relative yield potential of rice by planting date based on 2015-2018 studies at the Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart, Arkansas.
planting date studies
Table 2. Relative yield potential of rice by planting date based on 2017-2018 studies at the Pine Tree Research Station near Colt, Arkansas

Looking at Table 1 from Stuttgart data and Table 2 from Pine Tree data you’ll see very different results. First, Stuttgart is based on a larger dataset of 4 years versus 2 for Pine Tree. However, if we only looked at the same two years for Stuttgart versus Pine Tree, the data difference remains the same.

So, for the Stuttgart data we see that we can still make greater than 75% of yield potential planting through the first week of June. But for the Pine Tree data we can actually stay at 75% or greater during late May and 85% or greater in early June.

Looking at field yields from the Verification program (from top to bottom in the state), they generally align with the Stuttgart data; however, very few program fields have ever been planted in the last week of May and early June. So, early is generally better, but there are still some very good yields to be made planted late.

Growth and development

We can use Diamond as an example for changes in speed of development across different planting (emergence) dates in Table 3 as predicted by the DD50 Rice Management Program. Rice planted in late May to early June will need to be flooded just 3 weeks (no more than 4) after emergence versus a 5-6 week window for early planted rice. The primary reason to fertilize rice on time is to maximize yield. In late planted rice there is an added advantage – the sooner you fertilize the earlier you’ll be able to harvest.

rice growth and development chart
Table 3. Influence of Emergence Date on Management Stages of Diamond Rice.

Use the same nitrogen (N) management as with any other planting date – don’t change your rates (what works best early works best late). There’s added incentive to establish a GreenSeeker reference plot and check it at midseason. You can use it to avoid excessive N applications at midseason to save money and harvest earlier (excess N means maturity delays).

Rice planted in late May and early June is like Ricky Bobby – it wants to go fast. Do the best you can to keep up with it and stay on time with management – the easiest way we miss out on yield with late planted rice is to be late with preflood N. If we can get that part right we can be surprisingly successful.

Dr. Jarrod Hardke is a University of Arkansas Extension rice agronomist based at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. He may be reached at

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