Lack Of Rain Offers Good Bad For Soybean Rice Farmers

Bruce Schultz  |  5/27/2005 8:23:24 AM

News Release Distributed 05/26/05

This year’s lack of rainfall offers both good and bad news for rice farmers.

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Don Groth said the good news is that farmers won’t have much need for fungicides if the dry spell continues, but the downside is they will have the added cost of pumping water instead of relying on rain.

"You just don’t get diseases under these desert conditions," Groth, who works at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station, said at a meeting held Tuesday (May 24) for Evangeline Parish growers.

Rice crops could do well if they get through the heading phase without disease, he said.

The risk of farmers having to deal with Asian soybean rust also is minor if the dry weather holds, according to Rob Ferguson, LSU AgCenter soybean research associate.

"With weather like this, rust shouldn’t be an issue," he said.

Sentinel plots of soybeans have been planted throughout the state to detect any presence of rust, said Keith Fontenot, LSU AgCenter county agent in Evangeline Parish.

On the other hand, LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Boris Castro said stink bug infestations on rice crops could be heavy this year because of dry weather. Last year stink bug populations were low because of heavy rainfall, he said.

Castro added, however, that no reports have been received of an insect discovered last year in Louisiana that originally was thought to be a rice whorl maggot. The insect was identified this summer as a South American species of maggot. Last year’s first report came in mid-June, he said.

But the Mexican rice borer is moving closer to Louisiana from Texas, Castro said.

"As of November, it was one county away from Louisiana," Castro said.

Castro said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been alerted to the rice mite, an insect found in Central and South American countries. He said some fields in Costa Rica had 100 percent losses from a virus carried by the mite.

Dr. Jason Bond, an LSU AgCenter agronomist at the Rice Research Station, said dry conditions are hurting farmers from Louisiana through Arkansas.

As little as an inch and a half of rain would help farmers who are having to pump water onto their rice fields, he said.

In another report at the meeting this week, Randy Jemison of the USA Rice Federation said the Iraqi Grain Board recently agreed to buy 60,000 metric tons of U.S. rice, bringing the total to 180,000 tons purchased by the Iraqis this year.

"The bottom line is they want to buy U.S. rice, but they want to buy it at world market prices," he said.

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

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