Highlights of the Rice Research Station Field Day - Part II

Steven Linscombe  |  8/17/2015 8:13:27 PM

Drs. Jarrod Hardke (left) and Dustin Harrell discuss rice fertilization during the recent Rice Resea

The 2015 LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station Field Day was held on July 1. This was the 106th field day since the station was established in 1909. The number of participants on the field tours was up compared to recent years, and the tour provided an excellent overview of ongoing research at the station. Last month we discussed the weed control and rice breeding stops on the tour. This month we continue with the four additional stops.

Dr. Clayton Hollier, plant pathologist, discussed the questions to ask when making a decision on whether or not to use a rice fungicide to treat disease. These include: 1) What is the reaction of my varieties to the major diseases? 2) What diseases are present in my field? 3) Are conditions favorable for disease development? 4) Which fungicide should I use? 5) What will it cost? He also covered five reasons to use a fungicide: 1) increased yields, 2) increased milling, 3) better second crop, 4) reduced disease, and 5) peace of mind. But, he added, there are five reasons not to use a fungicide: 1) no disease, 2) too late, 3) poor yield potential of field, 4) variety is resistant, and 5) putting a fungicide out just in case without scouting the field. Also at this stop Dr. Jong Ham discussed his research to increase the rice plant’s genetic resistance to important diseases. Most of his work is on panicle blight and sheath blight diseases. He searches for molecular markers associated with disease resistance using cutting-edge bioinformatics and computation tools. He is also incorporating conventional crossing as well as induced mutation breeding techniques to develop higher levels of genetic resistance into lines that are agronomically adapted for production under Louisiana conditions.

Dr. Mike Stout and Ms. Lina Bernaola, graduate student, discussed insect pests at the next stop, including research on the rice water weevil, the most important early season insect pest of rice in Louisiana as well as the U.S. as a whole. Work in this project continues to better define optimal rates and application timings for the currently available insecticides for rice water weevil control. They are also evaluating insecticide combinations for more effective control of a broader range of rice insect pests. The project continues to investigate the impact of agronomic practices such as planting date, seeding rate and water management on the rice water weevil. One current goal of the Rice Insect Program is to characterize the resistance of widely grown rice varieties to insect pests, including the rice water weevil, stem borers and fall armyworms. This information will be used to make variety recommendations based on overall pest resistance. Ultimately, this may allow a reduction in the amount of pesticide needed to produce a high-yielding crop. In addition, the Rice Insect Program is attempting to develop rice varieties resistant to the rice water weevil. The project is evaluating a population derived from a cross between Cocodrie, which is susceptible to weevils, and Jefferson, which is moderately resistant to weevils, in an effort to develop a variety with improved resistance to the rice water weevil.

At the next stop Dr. Jim Oard discussed the rice hybrid breeding program. Research goals of the Hybrid Rice Program at the Rice Research Station include: 1) development of and identifying male sterile lines (cytoplasmic A or environmental sensitive S), restorer (R), and maintainer (B) lines adapted to the southern U.S. environmental conditions; 2) identifying elite cross combinations through extensive test-crossing; and 3) exploring the feasibility of economical hybrid seed production. The program continues to make progress in all of these areas, and the program currently has several hybrid combinations that could be candidates for release. Dr. Herry Utomo also discussed his research with the use of genetic markers. This work is currently facilitating a number of crucial areas including breeding for high protein rice lines, new sources of herbicide resistance and superior grain quality.

On the final tour stop Dr. Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, and Dr. Jarrod Hardke, University of Arkansas rice specialist, discussed various aspects of rice agronomy. One of the main topics was how to most effectively apply nitrogen fertilizer in a year like 2015 when excessive rain keeps fields muddy. These conditions do not allow for applying nitrogen on a dry soil just prior to the permanent flood, which maximizes nitrogen use efficiency. The preferred order of preference based on soil conditions is 1) field is dry, 2) field is muddy and 3) field has standing water. Under situations 2 and 3 nitrogen rates, typically, will need to be increased to compensate for higher rates of loss of the applied fertilizer.

The 2016 Rice Research Station Field Day will be held on Wednesday, June 29. Mark your calendar and participate.


This project was partially supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Permission granted August 15, 2015 by B. Leonards (LA Farm & Ranch) to republish article on www.lsuagcenter.com.
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