Several Field Days Held In Rice-Producing Areas

Steven Linscombe, Schultz, Bruce  |  7/19/2007 12:46:23 AM

News Release Distributed 07/18/07

LSU AgCenter scientists who work with rice went on the road in July – meeting with farmers at field days in five parishes.

The experts gave reviews of their programs to develop new rice varieties, fight insects, control diseases and improve yields.

The field days were held July 2 in Vermilion Parish, July 3 in Jefferson Davis Parish, July 10 in Evangeline Parish, July 12 Richland Parish and July 13 in Acadia Parish.

With harvest expected to start in the next week or so, farmers across the rice-growing regions of the state say their crops are progressing well.

Scott Fontenot of Eunice said he hopes the rain stops soon. "If it keeps raining, we’ll have a muddy harvest," he said.

Charles Reiners of Branch said his crop appears to be doing well, but he’s withholding any yield predictions. "We’re going to wait until the combine gets in the field," Reiners said.

Dwight Hardee of Gueydan also said the harvest will show if the crop yields as well as it looks. "We’re going to find out next week," he said.

Although some diseases are starting to surface, farmers say so far it’s not as severe as the Cercospora that afflicted last year’s crop.

In Jefferson Davis Parish, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Don Groth said Cercospora has probably been in rice fields for years, with few effects; until 2006. "Last year, it set up an epidemic like we’d never seen before," he added.

While working to prevent or treat Cercospora, don’t let your guard down against other diseases in rice, Groth advised.

"We still have to remember that sheath blight is our No. 1 disease," Groth said, adding that even varieties with good disease resistance should be scouted for sheath blight.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder and regional director of the southwestern Louisiana area that includes its Rice Research Station, said Cheniere registered and certified seed will be available for 2008.

In addition, at the Acadia Parish Rice Field Day, which was held at the Rice Research Station South Farm, Linscombe showed farmers the fields being used for seed increases of several varieties, including Clearfield 151. He said selection of new long-grain and medium-grain lines, both having the Clearfield characteristic, for a seed increase will probably be made this year to be grown during the winter season at the LSU AgCenter’s Puerto Rico nursery.

In Evangeline Parish, Dr. Xueyan Sha , LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said a Jasmine variety continues to show promise with stable milling quality, good aroma and high yields.

Sha said the United States imports large amounts of Jasmine from Thailand, but a U.S. variety could provide a niche market for U.S. growers. He also said the Jasmine could be released as early as 2008.

Also at the South Farm, Dr. Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, showed several test plots for new herbicides and herbicide combinations, as well as those for testing of herbicide drift. He said the Trenasse variety shows remarkable ability to recover from drift of a Newpath application.

Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter grains specialist, speaking in Acadia Parish, said Southwest Louisiana farmers should consider raised beds for soybeans because of improved drainage. Lanclos said bean prices continue to increase. The prices exceeded $9 a bushel July 12, but Lanclos said there are some projections for $11 beans.

At the North Louisiana Rice Tour at Woodlands Plantation near Mer Rouge, farmer John Owen of Rayville said the LSU AgCenter’s support of farmers is evident with rice varieties developed and being developed.

"I feel like the varieties coming out of Louisiana are the best ones available," Owen said.

In other reports, Dr. Mike Stout, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said in Vermilion Parish that six new chemicals are being considered for federal approval that could be used against rice water weevils. Four of the chemicals are seed treatments and two are granulars, Stout said, and they are at least as effective as the chemicals on the market now – but some are less toxic to crawfish. He said two or three of the chemicals could be released on a provisional basis by next year.

Also in Vermilion Parish, Dr. Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, said yield testing is being conducted at the station and at off-station sites, with the results to be posted on the Internet. He said a study of stubble management for a second crop of rice will continue this year, but so far no clear-cut results have been obtained for mowing or rolling rice stubble after the first crop is cut.

In Richland Parish, Harrell also described his research projects for nitrogen timing and rate. He said data are being collected for making recommendations for zinc to be added to various soil types.

As for economic news, LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Gene Johnson told Evangeline Parish farmers that stronger rice prices are projected. He said there are some indications the European Union has relaxed its stance on genetically modified organisms.

Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said in Evangeline Parish that a study using a moisture meter is under way to help farmers determine when to drain a field in preparation for harvest.

And, in another report, LSU AgCenter agronomist and rice breeder Dr. Brooks Blanche said at the Vermilion Parish gathering that he is researching the use of blending varieties and hybrids in the same field. He said it’s possible taller plants could be less susceptible to lodging if mixed with shorter plants. In addition, he said the study will consider if a plant with high susceptibility to disease can benefit from growing alongside a plant with disease resistance.

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Contact: Steve Linscombe at (337) 788-7531 or SLinscombe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or BSchultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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