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In the summer of my junior year in high school, I started working with Arkansas crop consultant Eddy Cates. He kept me around while I was in college and even guaranteed me work in the winter pulling soil samples. After graduating from Arkansas State University, I worked for him full-time for a couple years and then set up Dean Crop Services in the fall of 2011. This season marks my eighth rice crop on my own.
In looking back, 2018 was a challenging year for rice farmers. We experienced cold weather early in the season, and it took six weeks to get a stand in some fields. Although we had a lot of weeds, we managed to get them under control and ended up with a good rice crop in many places.
Strategy To Manage High-Stress Weeds
In my area, we have problems with barnyardgrass, flat sedge, sprangletop, signalgrass, nut sedge, indigo, coffeebean and smartweed. I recently heard that a yield loss of 2.4 bushels occurs each day barnyardgrass is left in the field. If you take that number to the end of the season, that’s a lot of rice left on the table because of barnyardgrass.
Our strategy to prevent high-stress weeds from taking up nutrients and water needed by the rice crop is to have a herbicide plan. This includes overlapping chemistries to control herbicide-resistant weeds. We also rotate rice with crops such as soybeans and corn and change up herbicides to avoid resistance or keep it from becoming a bigger issue.
Our herbicide program typically starts with a burndown. We also run Command herbicide behind the planter on every acre to prevent barnyardgrass and sprangletop from coming up. We don’t want to bring out the “big guns” too early or we won’t have anything to fall back on. Two to three weeks later, we apply an early post tankmix of Facet and Prowl H2O to get another residual herbicide out there.
In some situations, we apply a tankmix of Grasp SC, Facet and Permit Plus herbicides pre-flood to control a broad spectrum of weeds, such as barnyardgrass, nutsedge and signalgrass. If sprangletop is present, we hit it with Ricestar herbicide. To take care of any barnyardgrass and sprangletop escapes after we flood up, we rely on Clincher SF herbicide.
In addition to herbicide management, I also assist my growers with other aspects of rice production that contribute to a successful operation. For example, I pull soil samples and run them through Field RX — a Web-based precision ag program — to create site-specific field prescriptions. This allows us to make variable-rate phosphorus and potassium applications where needed in each field.
As the 2019 rice growing season get underway, we will continue to move forward with our most efficient and effective production practices, keep an eye on costs and stay positive.Alex Dean
Dean Crop Services
• B.S. degree in plant science — Arkansas State University
• Has consulted for 15 years and started Dean Crop Services in 2011
• Consults on rice, soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat and grain sorghum
• Member of Arkansas Agricultural Consultants Association
• Member of the First Baptist Church in Marion, Arkansas
• Married to Brittney for 10 years May 4. Daughter: Ava Claire, 8; Son: Layton, 6
• Enjoys deer hunting, duck hunting and crappie fishing. Also spends time watching Layton play baseball and Ava Claire participate in cheerleader competitions