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Growers have reasons to celebrate rice month
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi rice growers are anticipating a fifth consecutive year of record or near-record yields.
Nathan Buehring, rice specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the state crop has cleared most of the major hurdles, and harvest is progressing well so far. The threat of hurricanes or localized storms is the biggest challenge remaining for the crop as it finishes in September, National Rice Month.
"The weather was good, especially during pollination; it helps when temperatures do not go above 95 degrees," Buehring said. "We've had above-average rainfall, which helps farmers save money on irrigation, but June rains did present weed control challenges."
Buehring said new varieties with Clearfield technology have enabled growers to apply Newpath over rice fields for red rice control. Clincher has been helpful for late season grass control.
Mississippi's rice acreage is predicted at 235,000, unchanged from 2003. Growers set the current record of 6,800 pounds per acre last year.
"The weather caused more diseases this year, but producers did a good job with timely applications of fungicides," he said.
Buehring said preliminary results of early harvests suggest the state's rice growers have the potential to harvest above-average yields. Some producers already are waiting for rice to dry down for harvest.
"Mississippi needs to stay hurricane-free with no high winds to flatten rice and complicate harvest," Buehring said. "We would hope to have most of the crop harvested by the end of September and just a few fields remaining to be finished the first part of October."
Bolivar County Extension director Don Respess said his growers are 20 to 25 percent harvested and yields should be close to the record.
"We had timely planting, a dry spring, the soil was in good condition and we didn't have to replant much of the crop," Respess said. "High winds and rains in June did make it hard to apply herbicides in a timely manner, but the crop pulled through fine."
Respess said growers are now watching the weather in hopes of clear skies and no windy storms.
Bolivar County is preparing to host the 14th Annual Delta Rice Luncheon. This event will take place Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Walter Sillers Coliseum at Delta State University in Cleveland.