One of our past cooperators Dennis Robison grew rice again under his pivot near Nealyville, Mo. (South of Poplar Bluff). This was Dennis’ third rice crop under pivot, using a two-year rotation (rice-soybeans). Once again, he had excellent results. His yield under the pivot was 170 bushels/acre, equivalent to other yields in flooded fields nearby. Cool weather in July seemed to stunt yields across his farm, and his Rice Tec 745 under pivot performed just about the same as it did elsewhere.
Campbell Coxe , another past cooperator, grew rice again under a pivot near Society Hill, S.C. Campbell was again happy with his results—he got 125 bushes/acre, which was very satisfactory for the unique heirloom aromatic variety he grows, Carolina Gold. Campbell is vertically integrated; he grows, mills, processes and sells his rice to the retail market. You can check out his website here.
A third cooperator John Taylor tried pivot rice for the first time near Hughes, Ark. This was a trial for him, as he begins to get into rice production. His Roy J yielded 182 bushels/acre, and he was very pleased. Taylor is encouraged that the system can work and that this gives him another tool to use as he increases rice acreage in future years.
Based on his pivot operating hours, it looks like he used less than 24” of irrigation, which seems like a reasonable number. I don’t have weather records for his field, and I know this seemed like a wet year in his area. However, based on the soil type for his field, I think this was a very good result.
Below is a photo of Taylor’s rice at the end of July. You can see that the stand looks good and the weed pressure is manageable.
In general, I think we had another good year with pivot rice. As we move forward, the reduction in corn and soybean prices may lead to more interest in increasing rice acres. This practice certainly puts another arrow in farmers’ quivers as they manage rotation, weed control and marketing issues in their operations.
Also, remember that the USDA RMA approved pivot irrigation as an irrigation management system. Crop insurance for this practice should be available to producers in Missouri, Arkansas and Texas beginning in the 2016 crop year. This should make the decision easier for those who want to try a promising new management idea while limiting their financial risk.
I thank you for your interest in this topic and your attention to these posts. Continue to work safely through the remainder of the harvest season, and stay in touch!
International Ag Project Specialist
Kelly, a Nebraska-based Irrigation Specialist, spent 10 years working on soil and water research projects for a major agricultural university, involving a variety of crops. His work focused on irrigation management, but also included other topics. Since joining Valley Irrigation, he has worked in the service, product management, product reliability, and sales. Kelly now focuses on developing projects in irrigation field management and providing recommendations for the Circles for Rice project. Kelly has traveled to several countries providing technical support, such as soil moisture monitoring and irrigation management training.