The Louisiana Rice Research Board decides how farmers’ checkoff funds will be spent on research to help rice farmers. Board members, from left to right on the bottom row, are Lester Cannon, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; John Earles; Richard Fontenot, chairman; John Denison, secretary and treasurer; and Damian Bollich. On the top row, from left to right, are Eric Savant, Sammy Noel, Jeffery Sylvester, Kim Frey, Alan Lawson, David LaCour and Jeremy Leonards. Not pictured are Jude Doise, Jason Waller and Dane Hebert.
The 2021 growing season has seen a variety of challenges and successes. Each year we are faced with a variety of obstacles, and this past year was no exception. It all started with an extremely cold and wet spring that got our crop to a slow start and, ultimately, delayed our harvest. Our crop yield numbers were lower than expected in much of the state, but our milling quality ended stronger than expected. Our ratoon crop has been a pleasant surprise to growers this year with strong yields for many producers.
Our Rice Research Field Day at the AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station was back in person this year. It was a great opportunity for us as producers to network with our peers and review the great work the scientists are getting done on our behalf at the station and its affiliated locations on a variety of producer issues and topics. The rice verification program was another success as it implemented AgCenter best management practices for rice in fields across the state. This program has also educated growers and agents alike on industry changes and production challenges. On field tours we were excited to be able to see many of the new varieties ready for release as well as those in the pipeline for future releases. Many the new technological advances were presented in the field and displayed at the many booths available for growers to visit after the tours.
With every season we face changes, and our research station is also having several staff changes taking place. However, there are some great new faculty coming aboard in 2022 to fill these positions and move our station up to the next level.
Each year your Louisiana Rice Research Board works hard with scientists to provide the most relevant and important rice research with the funds you provide through the checkoff program. Our funding has diminished this year with collections and funding receipts from the Colombia tariff rate quota. Your board has had to make some tough funding priority choices to keep our producers’ best interests in mind.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize the loss of two rice industry icons this past year, Linda Zaunbrecher and John Denison. They both worked to promote and advocate for the rice industry, serving on many committees with the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Louisiana Rice Research Board and USA Rice Federation. Their contributions have left a legacy for generations to come. The Louisiana rice industry will forever be grateful for their service.
As we look forward, I hope we have weather that cooperates for all and affordable products available for each of us to have a bountiful rice crop in 2022.
Richard Fontenot, Chairman
Louisiana Rice Research Board