2015 Missouri Rice Summary


   The Missouri 2015 rice crop started late and remained late until we were blessed with a perfect harvest season. It started very cold and wet in early April and remained that way until mid-May except for a couple days here and there. Only a few farmers planted 5 percent by April 20, with only 25 percent by May 5, followed by 65 percent at May 15, 80 percent May 30 and the remaining 2 percent was scattered up to late June.
   Growers planted about 210,000 acres of rice with 206,000 acres harvested. This is down from 225,000 acres in 2014. Weather, price and production cost contributed to the reduced acres. Some growers were more conservative this year choosing conventional varieties over Hybrids and Clearfield. They lowered fertilizer rates along with weed control programs and it was noticeable in some cases. Weed control is one of those tasks that they evaluate at harvest and begin planning for the next season. I noticed that for the most part Missouri rice farmers did a good job controlling our ample supply of weeds in 2015. However, we had a few more spots with sprangletop, barnyard, red rice and sedge escapes than in past years. Flat, umbrella and yellow nutsedge seem to be on the increase. It may be because of less competition due to the low seeding rates of rice we are planting these days. Most growers try to start clean and stay clean.
   One very positive note was our very low irrigation pumping cost this year due to almost weekly rain fall until late July. And with our already ample ground water supply furnished by our Ozark Karst system to the north and west and the Mississippi River influence to the east, Missouri is blessed with a very good low cost replenished ground water supply. Missouri growers irrigate 97 percent from wells and 3 percent from streams.
   Missouri growers chose more conventional varieties in 2015 than in the past with about 25 percent hybrids and 50 percent Clearfield. Long grain was 95 percent with medium grain 5 percent. Our yields were average this year, perhaps down a bit from the past couple high yielding years. This information is based on observations from a few consultants and myself. I have a lot of respect for American growers that blend together very complex choices to produce high quality economic crops. First, growers must choose their rice production system and then build a weed and fertility control program that will work well in that system. The choice of system (zero grade, water seeded, precision graded, drilled, furrow irrigated) depends on several factors such as, soil type, topography, grade, field size, clear field, variety, water supply and weed species pressure. Row or furrow irrigated rice is on the increase in Missouri with about 10 percent planted in 2015. So, like a coach, growers go about the business of putting a complex system together to win. Like a coach, growers feel more comfortable when they start ahead and stay ahead. 2015 was not an easy year for that.
   I want to mention and say thanks to our Private Rice Consultants, Dealer Distributor Supply Consultants, Missouri Rice Research Council, University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University, University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and Missouri Rice Farmer checkoff dollars that help all of us to partner in making Missouri a very productive rice state and player on the world market. ∆
   DR. ANTHONY OHMES: Agronomy Specialist, University of Missouri
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