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Furrow rice growing in Arkansas, could grow more

While overall rice acreage is decreasing, furrow-irrigating rice is on the rise.

Arkansas farmers may have planted up to 150,000 acres of furrow-irrigated or row rice, as it’s also known, in 2019. That’s up from about 100,000 in 2018, according to the University of Arkansas’ Dr. Jarrod Hardke.

More farmers might have tried the practice if the weather had been more cooperative last spring, said Hardke, who spoke at one of the stops on the Mississippi County Rice Irrigation Field Day on the Mike and Ryan Sullivan Farm near Blytheville, Ark.

“Even with total rice acreage going down this practice is still going up,” said Hardke, Extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It could have obviously still gone up further had we not been reducing total acres given the year and the weather.”

Hardke was one of about a dozen speakers who participated in the field day, which was attended by more than 300 farmers and industry members. Furrow-irrigated rice was a prime topic of discussion, but speakers also discussed the impact of cover crops, no-till planting and irrigation timing.

The weather and the fact some farmers had not irrigated their soybeans until a few days before the field day at Florenden Farms near Burdette, Ark., 0n Aug. 5 also drew comments from Hardke and others.

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