Thursday, May 3, 2012

Circles for Rice Update | by Kelly Downing

This week, I went to Missouri and Arkansas, and visited a few cooperators’ fields on Tuesday. Dennis Robison’s rice was at the V3 (three-leaf) stage. Chad Price’s rice was not quite as developed, probably V1 stage. It was a very windy day in the region, and many fields were exhibiting wind erosion, as the sandy soil started to blow. These two guys have experience with this issue, so I am confident they will be proactive in watering to suppress the sand-blasting that can occur under these conditions. Dennis and Chad farm a couple miles apart, on each side of the Missouri/Arkansas state line near Corning, Arkansas. 

Our primary mission was to install soil moisture monitoring equipment, but it was also good to get an early view of crop development and field conditions. The three fields we visited provided a range of early-crop status, from not-quite-emerged to V3. There is one additional cooperator a few dozen miles away, near Charleston, Missouri, who is about to plant, so we will include that site in our updates as the season progresses. 

S3 stage rice | prophyll has emerged
We met with Jeremy Baltz at his field near Pocahontas, Arkansas. As you can see in the photos below, by the middle of the afternoon the wind was intense, and there was a lot of soil moving. Conditions were as bad as any I have seen in the high plains of Texas through Nebraska, where we usually expect windy conditions like these. 

Jeremy planted around April 26th. His rice was at the S3 stage; not emerged from the soil, but the prophyll has emerged (see picture on right).

He began watering in an attempt to suppress the blowing sand, but it takes a few hours to make any progress. He mentioned that it is pretty difficult to out-guess Mother Nature and predict when to start this operation. Conditions were benign in the morning, but then “went to heck” at mid-day. He is fortunate that the rice has not yet emerged; keeping its “head down” has actually provided the crop protection from the natural sand-blaster.

Blowing soil
I have to admit, after taking the photos with my cell phone camera, the pictures do NOT accurately reflect the severity of conditions. Standing there, we could barely make out the edge of the field through the blowing sand. Even with wrap-around sunglasses, I got lots of dirt in my eyes. The bottom line is that he is fortunate the rice had not emerged, and he has the capacity to apply water to get the blowing soil under control. The seeds had adequate moisture; it was just the very top layer that had dried out and begun to blow.

Next week, I will be at a cooperator’s field in Texas, and will let you know how things are going there.