Rice harvest is just beginning and producers will have to make the decision of whether to produce a second crop. Producers need to have a high yielding first crop and hopefully a good second crop to help offset the low prices. Last year we had one of the best second crops in many years. The rice producers could use a couple of weeks of no rain, but the soybeans need the showers. Most of the area still needs rainfall at this time. The rice crop looks really good. We will know in the next few weeks how good the yields will be. Right now the price doesn’t look real good. Input costs for water have been really high this year with the drought conditions we have been experiencing. Hopefully we see another good year for the second crop.
Ratoon (second) crop production is one of the advantages of rice production in Southwest Louisiana. Several factors should be considered before deciding on which fields to second crop. Production cost is very high due to the high cost of fertilizer and pumping and you may want to consider limiting second crop production to only the earliest fields and those that had a good first crop yields with little rutting. Some of the early rice fields will be harvested after or between rains, causing severe rutting which can reduce their potential for a profitable second crop. Heavy disease pressure in some fields has brought up the question - is the regrowth not showing yet or is the straw dead? In fields of slow regrowth or no regrowth check the crown of the plant for signs of bud development. If no signs of bud development are present and there are continued showers, waiting to see prior to making a fertilizer application may be warranted. If the field is dry, flushing then checking for regrowth prior to fertilizing and flooding would be an alternative. Remember this is for fields that show little signs of regrowth. Delaying fertilizing and flooding can delay second crop resulting in several days of lost time that could benefit production.
Rice fields intended for ratoon (second) crop should be harvested before approximately August 15. After this date, the field is considered late. Early frost can be hazardous when attempting to second crop fields harvested later in August because ratoon crop requires approximately 90 days to mature. Research generated at the Rice Research Station in Crowley has shown that an application of nitrogen fertilizer will be necessary when striving for high second crop yields. It is normally best to apply the nitrogen to a dry soil surface then establish a shallow flood. Apply 70-90 pounds of nitrogen per acre when first crop harvest is before August 15, and fertilize with 30-45 pounds of nitrogen per acre when harvest is after August 15. The first stubble should be left at a combine height. A week or more delayed growth will result if stubble is clipped or rolled, although clipping or rolling will make the second crop mature more evenly. A straw spreader should be used to prevent straw from reducing regrowth in the combine row or the straw may be baled.
Flooding is another important item that needs to be addressed as soon as harvest is complete. Some rice varieties may exhibit tillers earlier than others, while some may not be evident for several days. However, delaying the flood does not improve the number of tillers and results in several days of lost time that could be benefiting your rice. Flooding does not have to be deep and will encourage rice growth, especially if conditions are dry. A deep flood can be made once the second crop is established. Fields should not be seriously infested with red rice or heavy infestations of broadleaf weeds such as alligator, red stem or dayflower as these may also make the field unsuitable for second crop production. While second crop gives us the opportunity to increase our barrels of production per acre and keep us competitive, it also depends on making a good second crop.
For more information contact our office in Jennings or Crowley. You may also call our offices at 337-824-1773 or 337-788-8821 or visit the LSU AgCenter web site.