Agriculture is essential to Arkansas. Arkansas is the nation’s No. 1 rice producer, therefore Arkansas rice production can greatly affect national production. Successful rice production depends heavily on weather, and so far 2018 has been a bit of a wild ride. April was one of the coldest on record and May was one of the hottest on record. This drastic weather has some interesting consequences.
For April the DD50 (days during which the temperature rises above 50 degrees) was the lowest it has been in the last 30 years. April showers and cooler weather likely hindered the effects of herbicides. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, states “Emergence on early planted rice was extremely delayed by the cold April weather and so we didn’t benefit much from early residual herbicide applications, ” The unusually cool weather of April was followed by unusually warm weather in May.
May had the most DD50 units in the last 30 years. The warm weather in May dried things out, and kept them dry. This yet again hindered the effectiveness of herbicides. A lot of acreage needed to be flushed in order to relieve the drought conditions and stimulate residual herbicides. Sporadic rains interfered with the crop’s ideal fertilization window, leaving growers to try to “play catch-up” during a recent window of dry weather. Hardke said the recent high heat, dry conditions and variable winds have also resulted in some reports of off-target herbicide drift.
Despite the drastic shift in weather, rice production is on target and doing well. The June 2 storm only affected a small area in northeastern Arkansas and luckily, did not cause severe damage. As of last week, nearly 100 percent of planned rice acreage throughout the state had already emerged, with growers rating 70 percent of the crop as being in “good” or “excellent” condition, according to a June 4 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This unpredictable weather has certainly made for an interesting season.