The weather this spring has allowed rice to be planted across most of the state at record pace. As of May 16, farmers had planted an estimated 97% of the rice acreage. This compares to 95% last week and only 68% this time last year. It is also well ahead of the 5-year average of 84% for this week. The USDA estimates that 90% of the rice acreage has emerged. This compares to 55% last year at this time and 69% for the 5-year average. Our planting progress is 2-3 weeks ahead of the 5-year average and a month ahead of last year. As of May 16, 14% of the crop is reported to be in excellent condition, 53% good, 29% fair, and 4% poor.
Average temperatures were near normal ranging from 1 degrees below normal at Newport to 7 degrees above normal at Monticello for the week ending May 16. Low temperatures ranged from 43 degrees at Marianna to a high of 92 degrees at Stuttgart. Rainfall for the week ending May 16 ranged from a low of 0.08 inches at Warren to a high of 4.2 inches at Fayetteville. Overall, soil moisture supplies were 13% short, 56% adequate, and 31% surplus.
Much of the rice is reaching the stage for flood establishment and several thousand acres have already been flooded. Remember to wait until the soil dries to apply preflood nitrogen fertilizer and then apply a shallow flood as quickly as possible.
Very early estimates suggest that CL 151 is the most widely planted variety so far (about 23% of the acreage). The next most widely planted varieties are Wells (16%), Rice Tec CL XL 745 (16%) and Jupiter (12%). These numbers are preliminary and may change as we get more information available.