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Arkansas’ Rice planting pace is well ahead of normal, but could lead to challenges later

An Arkansas rice extension educator says planting season got started early and has yet to slow down.

Jarrod Hardke says some farmers in the state were almost finished planting rice in the first week of April. “We started seeing some rice even emerge the first few days of April,” he says.  “Because conditions were not extremely warm, but warmer than average, and things have just progressed along.”

The latest crop progress and conditions update from the USDA reported that 46 percent of the state’s rice crop was planted, and 7 percent emerged. Hardke says that’s not accurate. “In the northeastern third of the state, they’re getting overall very close to completion,” he says. “In the central portion, they’re well beyond 50% planted and progressing quickly.”

He says the fast-paced planting season does create some concerns for later in the growing season. “But it does have a tendency to move the crop up and some of its maturity into the hottest part of the summer,” he says.  “That is part of what was to blame for last year’s poor milling yields.”

He says there are some benefits, too.  The early planting likely gets the crop to maturity faster, allowing farmers to finish harvest before fall rains.

Hardke says he’s hearing from growers across the state, and they are saying the rice crop currently looks great.  

AUDIO: Jarrod Hardke, University of Arkansas extension educator

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