Heat affecting this year's rice crop

GREENFIELD, AR(KAIT) - The heat is taking a toll on all kinds of things including field crops. You might not think that rice standing in water would be affected, but it is.

Plants, like humans, need breaks from stressful growing and rice needs the cooler temperatures at night to rest.

What rice that avoided the spring flooding is now maturing in the fields.

U of A Extension agent Craig Allen says in Poinsett County rice is all over the calendar. "This year we just have all stages of development in the rice crop."

According to the university of Arkansas extension last years crop had the lowest yields and poorest quality since 2001. The climate this year isn't helping.

With highs in the 90's and still hot at night the rice can't rest.

Allen, "The plant just wants to keep growing instead of trying to cool down at night. And it can affect pollination."

Current night time temps are averaging around 74, normal is around 70. When the plant grows 24/7 quality suffers.

Allen, "It's not able to equate that into grain fill and grain quality."

High heat means farmers have to pump more water. Lowering water tables make that hard and more expensive.

The rice field that we stood in did not have any standing water.

Allen, "You can tell by this field evaporation, right now it's just muddy there's hardly any water on it."

And in this intense heat, if you'll pardon the pun, rice isn't the only crop that's having a hard grow of it.

Corn and soybeans need water especially the soybeans.

Allen, "Most of them are starting to flower it's a real crucial time for irrigation and pretty much all the beans are getting watered this week."

Allen says if this heat continues like it is there could be issues with rice planted after the rains came.

Allen, "If it's a later planting and it stays hot there for a week then it's probably going to affect it more than it's affecting these other plants."

Allen says there is research being done into developing a heat-resistant rice plant but commercially those are several years away.

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