LSU AgCenter Rice Field Day Shows Off Latest Projects To Help Farmers

Bruce Schultz  |  4/19/2005 10:29:19 PM

About 500 people attended the field day July 1 at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station near Crowley. They were able to view some of the latest research and hear from experts in plant breeding, insect control, diseases and other research topics.

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News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

CROWLEY – Approximately 500 people attended the annual field day Thursday (July 1) at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station to learn about new projects to help farmers.

For many farmers, it was a chance to get new ideas, see old friends and focus on something other than the excessive moisture brought by all the recent rains.

Farmer John Carbolan Jr. of Elton said he was pleased to learn that researchers are testing granular pesticides to kill rice water weevils. He consulted with Dr. Boris Castro, LSU AgCenter entomologist, for ways of dealing with the pest with the current pyrethroid insecticides.

Carbolan also said he was impressed with the new varieties presented on the field tour by breeders.

"They look really good," Carbolan said.

For farmer Paul Zaunbrecher of Acadia Parish, it was a chance to see what is under way to develop new varieties. He said he is eager to try a new version of Clearfield – and new medium- and long-grain varieties.

"All those look promising," he said.

Kevin Berken of Lake Arthur said he’s interested in the new Clearfield variety, which is to be numbered 131.

Berken also said the field day offers good advice on general topics such as disease treatment and fertilizers.

"To keep us up to date, it’s a good refresher," he said. "It’s stuff you forget, and it keeps you on top of your game."

Farmer Todd Fontenot of Evangeline Parish said he was glad to hear new long-grain varieties with earlier maturity could be released next year.

"That’s something we always want more of," he said.

Fontenot said the discussion about timing applications of fungicides also was helpful.

"It’s always good to be updated on when to apply and when not to apply," Fontenot said.

On the field tour, Drs. Steve Linscombe, Qi Ren Chu and Xueyan Sha, all LSU AgCenter rice breeders working at the station, discussed new varieties in development. Those include an aromatic long-grain rice comparable to Thai Jasmine, a high-yielding medium grain, a very early long grain and a semi-dwarf very early Clearfield long grain, all possibly available for planting in 2005.

In other parts of the field tour:

–Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, talked about methods to decrease fungal diseases, such as aerial blight, and the use of desiccants to get the crop ready for harvest.

–Matt Baur, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, detailed methods of combating stink bugs.

–Drs. Donald Groth and Rick Cartwright talked about fungal diseases becoming widespread this year because of heavy rainfall. Groth advised higher concentrations of fungicides should be used for earlier applications. Cartwright, a rice pathologist from the University of Arkansas, discussed his extensive research on kernel smut and false smut, diseases that are becoming more prevalent in Louisiana.

–Drs. Michael Stout and M.O. Way talked about insect pests. Stout, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said two granular products are being tested for rice water weevils, and new seed treatments show promise. Way, an entomologist from Texas A&M, talked about monitoring possible migration of the Mexican stem borer, now found in East Texas.

–Dr. Eric Webster, an LSU AgCenter weed scientist, highlighted new herbicides available to deal with weeds and grasses. He said some grasses aren’t controlled by chemicals, including Brooks Paspalum and Peruvian water grass, a problem vegetation found in Vermilion Parish canals.

–Dr. Jason Bond, LSU AgCenter agronomist, said research is under way to determine the effectiveness of rolling stubble in preparation for the ratoon crop.

Several speakers addressed the crowd after the field tour.

Among their comments, LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Lawrence "Gene" Johnson offered a mixed bag in his forecast for the rice market, which he called "positive, but not quite as positive as it was two months ago."

Johnson said the higher acreage in rice and the expected high yield – a record harvest of more than 223 million hundredweight – will drive prices down.

Prices have fallen with the recent release of a June U.S. Department Agriculture report that increased rice acreage to 3.35 million acres, including 550,000 in Louisiana. That’s a 5 percent increase from the March forecast and an 11 percent increase from last year’s crop.

U.S. rice is selling for $425 a ton, almost double the world market price. That price spread will affect U.S. producers’ ability to compete in the global market, Johnson said.

Total U.S. stocks will be roughly 260 million hundredweight after harvest, Johnson said, and it’s unlikely the domestic consumption will increase. The overseas market doesn’t have any definite new buyers at present, Johnson said, but positive signs from the overseas market include depletion of China’s rice stocks.

Without catastrophic weather, Johnson said the rice market will strengthen, but not dramatically.

In another report, Jackie Loewer of Branch, a rice farmer and member of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, said the industry has several challenges ahead. They include increased regulations for fuel and chemical storage on farms, possible loss of some pesticides and uncertainties with Farm Bill in 2006.

The momentum on Capitol Hill is shifting from commodity supports to conservation programs, Loewer said.

Efforts also are under way to redefine the family farm and limit farm payments. At the same time, government payments to rice farmers could come under attack by Brazil before the World Trade Organization the same way Brazil is challenging U.S. payment supports to cotton farmers, he said.

"That’s probably the biggest threat to our industry right now," Loewer told the crowd, adding that the Central American Free Trade Agreement has potential to increase foreign markets for rice, Loewer said.

Loewer also said American farmers stand to benefit from genetically modified crops to be more competitive with foreign producers.

To help with such research, the Louisiana Rice Research Board has invested $25 million to $30 million for rice research at the station during the past 30 years, LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson pointed out.

LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil also told the gathering that the quality of work by scientists at the station and by county agents "only exists because you demand it," and AgCenter Vice Chancellor David Boethel pointed out that other states also rely heavily on rice varieties developed at the Rice Research Station.

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Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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