Bruce Schultz, Gould, Frances I.
Keith Collins, an LSU AgCenter agent in northeast Louisiana, talks at a field day
near Rayville about the possible benefits of row rice.
LSU AgCenter researchers are developing best management practices for growing row rice in north Louisiana.
Row rice is planted on flat ground without levees. Polypipe is used for irrigation to keep the soil moist, and fields are not flooded.
Three on-farm sites were used in the study, the Jason Waller farm in Morehouse Parish, the Darrell and Donnie VandeVen farm in Tensas Parish and the Elliot Colvin farm in Richland Parish.
“I think we got a lot of good information this first year,” said Keith Collins, an LSU AgCenter agent.
The data should help establish guidelines for fertilizer amounts and application timing, he said. Also, hybrids and varieties are being evaluated for their use as row rice.
Collins said the fields in Richland and Morehouse had severe weather episodes that resulted in lodging that reduced yields in variety evaluations, but field yields were good.
The yield on the Richland Parish field was 235 bushels (65 barrels or 105 cwt.), compared to 216 bushels (60 barrels or 97 cwt.) in Morehouse and 239 in Tensas (66 barrels or 107 cwt.).
Water pumping totaled 21.2 inches in Richland Parish and 25 inches in Morehouse. Water on both of those fields was retained with gated field drains. In Tensas water was not retained, and the pumping totaled 29.7 inches. Collins said moisture sensors at the field were monitored remotely to help determine when watering was needed.
With rain and pumping, the Tensas field received 48.5 inches of water, compared to 36.3 inches in Richland and 46 inches in Morehouse.
Two hybrids, XL745 and XL753, were used at all three test sites, and Gemini was used only in Morehouse Parish. Cheniere and CL153 were the two pure line varieties in the project.
Collins said the study also will help producers with more baseline research data that could result in crop insurance policies being written for this practice.
The VandeVen brothers have used row rice since 2015. This year, they had 150 acres of rice.
“This was our fourth crop with it, and it has worked real well for us,” Darrell VandeVen said.
The VandeVens also grow cotton, corn and soybeans, and row rice gives them more flexibility at planting time. He said they prepare all their fields the same in the fall, and they don’t have to decide until the spring what to plant.
Using a hybrid is essential, he said, because of the disease resistance.
With row rice, they don’t have to make levees and then flatten them to plant a different crop, he said, and they save water and pumping costs.
“We don’t even have a levee plow, and I’ve never installed a levee gate,” VandeVen said.
He said irrigation is done often enough to prevent the ground from drying. They irrigate once a week in the early part of the season. Then, as days get longer and hotter, the interval is reduced to every five to six days. By late June or early July, watering is done every three days.
Weed control requires starting with a clean field and using a pre-emergence herbicide early. He said they used three fertilizer applications 10 days apart, all just before watering.
Darrell VandeVen said they have gotten calls from several farmers interested in the method.
“It’s a natural fit for someone who’s never grown rice before,” he said.
Polypipe is used to irrigate a 23-acre field in Richland Parish north of Rayville. Growing row rice
by irrigating a field to keep the soil moist is a practice gaining popularity in north Louisiana
because of the flexibility it provides in addition to the potential for reduced water usage.