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Some rice growers have backs to wall

Rice planting near. I hope it will put a lot of uncertainty behind us. I know a lot of growers are not going to be able to plant the varieties they want to plant, but Arkansas State Plant Board figures indicate there is enough rice seed available to plant the crop.

I know it is easy for me to say that we will get through this since I do not have money invested in the rice crop, but I believe we will. It is obvious that Clearfield acres will be way down, and that is causing growers the most concern on selecting varieties.

Those are the cards we have been dealt. A lot of growers who cannot get Clearfield seed have told me, “My back is against the wall” on a lot of ground that will not produce soybeans.

That tells me there will be a lot of conventional rice planted behind Clearfield last year. I have to ask, “Will your back be further against the wall if you plant it and loose the stand?”

I have written about as much as I care to about that in previous articles. My recommendation is to plant an alternate crop or be willing to accept failure if it occurs.

It is one of those situations that if I tell you to not even think about doing because the rice will die, you will call this fall and say, “I did it anyway and cut the best rice I have ever cut in that field.”

On the other hand if you take anything I say as encouragement to try it when you would not have otherwise, you will call this spring and say, “I planted that conventional rice behind Clearfield and it is graveyard dead.”

Crop injury from Newpath carryover will be stunting, purple to yellow color and in severe cases, dead plants.

Some have asked, “If it comes up to a stand, am I out of the woods?” No. The rice will often emerge normally. The injury often shows up to the point you know something is wrong at around the two-leaf to three-leaf stage.

Some have also asked, “If it comes up sick, should I hook up to the disk?” The answer to that one is, “Not just yet.” If you can keep a stand through the four-leaf stage, there is a good chance recovery will occur.

The Newpath residue will be more active under high moisture situations just as Newpath is more active on red rice under those conditions. Therefore, flushing in an attempt to get the rice to recover is not a good thing to do.

From a weed management standpoint, my suggestion would be to keep inputs at a minimum until you know you can keep the stand. Do not use herbicides like Facet, Permit or others that will injure soybeans until you know you can keep a stand. That way if you have a stand failure, you can at least make an attempt at a soybean crop.

I still get calls from those who ask, “Doc, is this thing about not planting conventional rice behind Clearfield rice a real risk or is it just a label thing?” It is both. The rotation restriction on the label is 18 months. It is 18 months because the risk of injury or loss of stand is real. Therefore, do not go forward because you believe somebody put the restriction on the label just to be extra conservative.

If I had to pick a number, I would put the overall risk of injury at about 50/50. That says nothing about what will happen in any individual field. It also does not mean that if injury occurs the rice will not recover. Sometimes it will and sometimes it will not.

Nobody can tell you what your chances are in any individual field.

My parting shot that you will minimize risk by planting soybeans on any field that has the potential to grow a decent soybean crop. In other situations, most growers are going to weigh the risk and do what they are going to do.

If you try rice and it comes up sick, call and we will try to help. You will never hear, “I told you so.” We will just try to help you assess the situation.

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