As of July 19, the USDA reports that 37% of the crop is heading. This compares to 16% last week, 9% this time last year, and a 5-year average of 9% for this week. Arkansas rice does not normally begin heading in June but we saw that happen in 2010. The crop was seeded earlier and we had 8 straight weeks with temperatures above normal. Thus, the crop has developed much sooner than normal. As of July 19, 21% of the crop is reported to be in excellent condition, 44% good, 30% fair, and 5% poor.
Average temperatures for the week ending July 19 were near to slightly above normal. The temperatures ranged from 1 degrees below normal at Newport to 4 degrees above normal at several locations. The temperatures ranged from a low of 68 degrees at several locations to a high of 100 degrees in Little Rock and El Dorado. Rainfall for the week ending July 12 ranged from none at Hope and El Dorado to a high of 7.0 inches at Fayetteville. Overall, soil moisture supplies were 5% very short, 29% short, 59% adequate, and 7% surplus. The extended heat and dry weather have caused a significant strain on the irrigation capacity across the Delta. Rice fields have spots (some large, some small) that are burning because the well is unable to keep up with the dry weather. Officially, most of Eastern and Southern Arkansas is “abnormally dry”, which is effectively a mild drought. These data are collected as of Friday and do not reflect the rainfall that has occurred in much of Eastern Arkansas.