A General Guide for Using Salt Water on Rice

John K. Saichuk  |  5/23/2005 7:56:34 PM

Salt water can become a problem in rice production, especially in some areas in dry years. A small amount of salt water is not dangerous to rice at any stage of growth. Higher concentrations affect the existing crop and can cause a buildup of salt in the soil.

Rice grown on soils relatively free of salt is tolerant to salt water with 35 grains (600 parts per million) per gallon of sodium chloride. One flooding of 6 acre inches of water containing 35 grains (600 p.p.m.) of salt would leave 800 pounds of salt per acre in the surface soil. Three such floodings would leave 2400 pounds per acre, about all the crop would endure. Continued use of even this amount of salt will lead to trouble. Water containing more than 35 grains per gallon (600 p.p.m.) cannot be used continuously throughout the growing season and year after year without damaging both crop and soil.

Where sodium chloride or sodium carbonate has accumulated in the soil, less than 1000 p.p.m. is not toxic to germination if there is normal soil moisture.

This table can be used as a guide for tolerance of rice to salt water.

Commonly Accepted Tolerance of Rice to Salt Water
Concentrations of Salt as NaCl in water

Grains per Gallon
Stage of Growth


Tolerable at all stages, not harmful. Rarely harmful and only to seedlings after soil is dry enough to crack.
Tolerable from tillering on to heading.
Harmful before tillering, tolerable from jointing to heading.
Harmful before booting, tolerable from booting to heading.
Harmful to all stages of growth. this concentration stops growth and can be used only at the heading stage when soil is saturated with fresh water.

This information was taken from material compiled by Dr. M.B. Sturgis, head, LSU Department of Agronomy by Lewis Hill, associate sppecialist (Agronomy), retired.

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