Cool April weather slows Louisiana rice

By Bruce Schultz —

marking research plots at lsu
LSU AgCenter research associate Carl Dischler marks research plots of young rice at the AgCenter’s H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley. Cool weather in April has delayed growth and development of the rice crop, and several other commodities also have been affected — photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter

Cool April weather has slowed growth of recently planted crops, especially rice.

The season started with good planting conditions in March. “But the cool weather set in after emergence, and everything just slowed down,” says Louisiana State University AgCenter Extension rice specialist Dustin Harrell.

By now, he says, rice plants should be at the four- to five-leaf stage and ready to flood, but most are at two to three leaves.

Harrell doubts the weather will affect this year’s crop in the long run.

“As long as we’re not having freezing temperatures, it’s just delaying the growth and development of the rice crop,” he says.

Some farmers are changing their herbicides to avoid injuring young rice, and flooding fields has been delayed because plants are shorter than usual.

Last year, the crop growth was slowed by flooding rains and cloudy weather, Harrell says.

AgCenter Extension associate Keith Fontenot, with the AgCenter rice verification program, says some farmers who water-seeded their crop are having to replant because high winds caused seed to drift to one side of a field.

“We did see some leaf tips dried out from the wind and the cold,” Fontenot says.

Jay Grymes, LSU AgCenter adjunct climatologist, says March temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees above normal.

“April has been running cool, 2 to 4 degrees below the norm for the two-plus weeks for northern Louisiana, and 1 to 3 degrees below the norm for the southern half,” he says.

April so far has been wetter than normal for many parishes, and that could delay the soil from warming, Grymes says.

Bruce Schultz is an assistant communication specialist with the LSU AgCenter in Crowley, Louisiana.

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