Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting Ready for 2013 | by Kelly Downing

We are finally into the final month of winter. Despite a few bitterly cold periods and a couple of significant snow events, my impression is that it has been a relatively mild winter here in eastern Nebraska. Sure, for a few days in December I was stuck alone in a house without power and with two annoying little dogs, but that is just part of the charm of country living. At least I had wood for the stove. Never did like that table, anyway.

As we head into spring and prepare for the 2013 growing season, it looks like rice prices may still limit “marginal rice acres.” That is, a lot of producers still seem to prefer planting corn and soybeans to rice in the areas where they can easily shift crops. I sense a little hope in the air, though, as rice prices tweaked up a little recently. We will have to see how the drought persists and what happens to other commodity prices, as well as watching the state of the general economy. However, I am NOT an economist, and that’s not why I am writing today.

Over the past several years, as you probably know, we have pursued the idea of bringing pivot rice into the realm of accepted practices for most growers. This is not to convert all the flood fields to pivots, but to provide a reasonable alternative for growers who need one (lack of water, sandy soil, hilly ground, or other crop rotation issues). One big factor holding back the concept has been risk; specifically, this practice is not covered by crop insurance. We have been working with several industry partners to develop coverage for pivot rice. One way we have supported this effort is to provide data from our cooperators to establish both yield expectations and best management practices for this type of practice.

It is extremely valuable in this effort to have side-by-side comparisons of pivot rice and flood rice. Several of our cooperators have been very helpful in this effort, and we want to continue these comparisons in 2013. We are looking for producers who have a pivot where they are interested in growing rice fairly close to a flooded rice field. If we can produce data from fields that are close together with similar soils, grown by the same manager and with the same variety/hybrid, we can really help the validation process.

If you think you might be interested, call me (402-359-6051) or send me a note ( and we can talk about the possibilities. I will be happy to visit your farm and discuss how to move forward.

Thanks for your interest. Keep warm and be safe gearing up for the new crop season!