The Right Mix

The Right Mix

Jarrod Hardke, University of Arkansas
Professor/Rice Extension
University of Arkansas Cooperative
Extension Service

The 2023 season turned out to be a moderate one in all the right ways. Planting progress was one of the earliest in recent years, particularly allowing much of the Northeast to get the crop in very early. The large early planting run helped spur the state to over 1.4 million acres of rice planted, which was the highest since 2020.

Based on yield reports, early plantings in late March and early April were very good, with lower yields reported in mid-April, and improved yields in May that rivaled early plantings. Mid-April is typically a great time to plant rice, but several environmental factors worked to give those fields a tougher time in 2023. A cool, wet period immediately following planting combined with a cool, cloudy, and wet period during the onset of reproductive growth were notable factors.

A persistent North wind created issues throughout May and into early June making herbicide applications difficult and, at times, less effective. While early on it looked like a recipe for major weed issues, things ultimately came together to bring better-than-expected weed control to most fields. However, drift and injury complaints from routine herbicide applications were higher than in recent years.

While conditions were better than the drought experienced in 2022, there was concern early on that we may have once again received the majority of our rainfall before the season even started. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and rains showed up throughout the season with a particularly notable rainy period in July.

Those rains weren’t entirely favorable as they coincided with the ideal timing to make sheath blight run rampant. While the 2022 droughty season had little sheath blight activity, the 2023 season sought to make up for it. Fungicide applications seemed largely effective at keeping things under control, but they weren’t effective as long as usual under the high disease pressure conditions. In contrast, rice stink bug pressure was lighter than normal leading to fewer sprays and little complaint about damage.

Damaged grain may not have been an issue, but overall, milling yields left something to be desired. A combination of extended periods of high nighttime temperatures during grain fill, followed by a shift to dry conditions and over drying of grain in the field, seemed to lead to lower milling yields. State average yields are projected around 168 bushels per acre, which reflects a very good year but slightly lower than the 2021 record of 170 bushels per acre.

While early favorable planting windows and medium-grain acreage opportunities helped propel acres above early expectations in 2023, it seems now that acres will settle back somewhat for 2024. However, a potential reduction in corn acres in the state may help keep rice acres at a more consistent level, and 1.2 million or more acres may remain on the table as opposed to more recent low-acreage years of 1.1 million acres.

2023 Ends Well for Most

justin chlapecka
Dr. Justin Chlapecka
Assistant Research Professor/
Rice Extension Specialist
University of Missouri

Once again, it’s great to be back writing for Rice Farming magazine and entering my third year in the Missouri rice world. After producing a state record rice yield of near 179 bushels per acre in 2021, we followed that up with 176 bushels per acre, although that was averaged over less than 150,000 acres last year. The Sept. 1 USDA-NASS estimate has Missouri’s 2023 crop pegged at 178 bushels per acre. If that holds true, and reports on the ground sound like it could, this would be Missouri’s second-highest average rice yield. A yield somewhere between 2021 and 2022 is not a bad place to land.

One thing that adds to the Missouri rice crop for 2023 is that approximately 203,000 acres were harvested, representing a 36% increase from last year. Historically (well, the past 12 years at least), we have had higher acreage in even-numbered years, but I would not expect that next year as we’ve likely reversed the trend.

The springtime was opposite of 2022 for most Missouri rice growers, with the vast majority of seed planted in April, especially early- to mid-April. On the flip side of this is that most other crops were planted in the same narrow time due to great planting conditions. We’ll talk about that later. Most did receive several rains to activate pre-emerge applications early on, but the rain shut off again in late May and every crop needed attention.

With rice layby and fertilizer applications all needing to go out at the same time as nitrogen on corn, some problems arose including access to urea and access to a timely herbicide application. Due to these issues, we did see some grassy areas after likely waiting too long before a flood was established.

Missouri saw great harvest conditions, with harvest beginning the last week of August and getting into full swing after Labor Day. Similar to last year, some farms left little to no ruts through both rice and soybean harvest, which bodes well for next year’s crop progress. The only real negative in terms of harvest weather were the Labor Day storms, which brought rice down in a wide swath mainly south of U.S. Hwy 412, although others dealt with patchy downed rice and even a little hail damage from the same system.

Overall, good growing conditions were able to maintain yield potential, but the milling yields for delivered rice reported so far have been subpar. We can always be hopeful that rice coming out of bins over the next few months will have better milling, as is definitely possible.

I’ve said it before, but this deserves repeating, I’m beyond blessed to be serving the rice industry in the Mid-South. Please reach out to me anytime with comments or questions. As always, eat MO rice!

2023 Wrap Up

Hunter Bowman
Assistant Research Professor/
Extension Rice Agronomist
Mississippi State University

In Mississippi, I would say 2023 was a successful year for the rice crop. With the dry spring weather, we were able to get the crop in early and then also had a dry fall, allowing for a timely harvest. While neighboring states seemed to have issues with milling quality, we were lucky in Mississippi that poor milling reports were very low. Another positive toward the end of the year was many growers began needing more storage than originally planned for the rice crop.

The year began with excitement due to good planting conditions and plans for a large increase in rice acres across the state. In 2022, Mississippi only planted 84,500 acres; however, in 2023 we estimate that we had approximately 120,000 acres of rice in the state, with Bolivar County being our largest producer and Tunica County being the second largest.

Going into the cropping year, we had large concerns around pest management. The lack of rain in the spring could have resulted in herbicides not being activated to control problematic weeds. Also, pyrethroid-resistant rice stinkbug continues to be a major concern. Finally, with the extreme heat and high humidity, diseases were also a worry.

Luckily, it seemed that we were continuously blessed with the rice crop throughout the past year. While rice stinkbug was still an issue, we received a Section 18 emergency use label for Endigo ZCX (which does provide control of the pest) just at the time we needed it this year. Most growers with fields needing to be sprayed before receiving this label were able to purchase Tenchu, which is also still effective. Most disease that was seen in the crop this year did not manifest until late in the season and was low enough in the canopy not to be problematic.

In short, Mississippi was blessed with the rice crop in 2023 and hopefully will be again in 2024.

Bacterial Panicle Blight

ronnie levy
Extension Rice Specialist
Louisiana State University

Extreme hot temperatures in later-planted rice resulted in many fields in South Louisiana having poor yields. Bacterial panicle blight (BPB): Bacterial panicle blight, caused by the bacterias Burkholderia glumae and B. gladioli, is one of the most important rice diseases in the South. The disease is associated with warm temperatures (day and night) and moisture. Losses include reduced yields and poor milling. The bacteria are seed-borne, survive in the soil, and live on the surface of the leaves and leaf sheaths following the canopy up.

The bacteria infect the grain at flowering and cause grain abortion and rotting during grain filling. The disease is first detected as a light- to medium-brown discoloration of the hulls’ lower third to half shortly after emergence. The stem below the infected grain remains green. Pollination occurs, but the grain aborts sometime after grain filling begins. Rain splash can disperse the bacteria on the plant surface to other plants, developing a circular pattern in the field with the most severely affected panicles in the center remaining upright because of grains not filling.

No chemical control measures are recommended. Fungicide application will not control or prevent BPB. Some varieties have more resistance than others. Rice planted later in the season and fertilized with high nitrogen rates tends to have more disease. Avoiding excessive N rates and early planting can reduce disease.

2023 Year in Review

Bruce Linquist, UCCE
UCCE Rice Specialist

2023 was a good year in terms of acreage with California having more than 500,000 acres of planted rice. This is double what we saw last year and is due to very good winter rainfall and snowpack. Rains in early May delayed planting and 50% of the crop had been planted by May 18 (average is May 12). The harvest has been drawn out and slow. Late planting, cool fall, intermittent rains, lodged rice, and little North wind have delayed harvest. About 50% of the crop was harvested by Oct. 17 (average is Oct. 8). As of writing this article (Oct. 31), there is still about 20% yet to harvest and rain in the forecast.

While it is still too early to project what yields are going to be, most areas are reporting that yields are lower than expected. This is based on discussions with growers, driers, and what we have seen in our Yield Contest. Certainly, with all of the fallowed acreage being planted this year, many growers were expecting higher yields. Yields in fields that have been fallowed are typically higher. However, years with late planting dates do not tend to yield as well. On rice harvested by mid-October, reports from one facility were that the quality was excellent (USDA No. 1; high milling and low chalk). This is a stark difference from 2022 where environmental conditions caused high chalk and lower-than-average milling.

In terms of pests and diseases, we did see a lot more blast this year — especially panicle blast. While it was most prevalent in the Northwestern portion of the valley where it is most often seen, it was noted in other regions as well. Based on limited observations, it was more prevalent on dry-seeded rice. In some cases we observed, yields will be impacted by blast. Bakanae and kernel smut were also seen at levels above normal. Seed midge was seen at higher levels in late-planted fields. Armyworms caused little damage, despite high moth counts in our monitoring traps. From a weed standpoint, watergrass continued to be a problem and was problematic in a lot of rice fields. On a positive note, we saw less weedy rice this year. This may be due to a lot of acreage being fallowed last year.

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