Series Of Meetings Lets Rice Farmers Go Back To School

John K. Saichuk, Stout, Michael J., Schultz, Bruce, Linscombe, Steven D.  |  4/21/2005 11:45:49 PM

News Release Distributed 01/11/05

Rice farmers across South Louisiana recently returned to school for lessons in the latest techniques of planting, pest control, fertilizer applications and fighting diseases.

The schooling, conducted by the LSU AgCenter, was held in Iowa, Ville Platte, Crowley and Kaplan.

In one example, Tim Walker, assistant professor of agronomy at Mississippi State University, detailed a method of soil sampling to determine what areas of a laser-leveled field need additional nutrients. He spoke at the sessions in Jefferson Davis and Evangeline parishes.

Walker said technology is available to determine areas within a field where yields were below par. Often, the poorer yielding areas previously were high spots in a field that were lowered in the laser-leveling process, he said.

"The more soil we moved, the more problems we had," Walker said.

Soil sampling on a 2-acre grid pattern, using a global positioning system, can determine where nutrients need to be added, he said.

Grid sampling enables a farmer to place nutrients in areas of a field where they are needed instead of just making a blanket application at a uniform rate, Walker said.

But a single application won’t return fields to original nutrient levels, Walker cautioned. "It’s going to take time to restore these fields," he explained.

Walker said farmers should consider discing or chiseling fields to break up compacted soil. LSU AgCenter rice specialist Dr. Johnny Saichuk cautioned, however, against breaking through the bottom layer of hardpan clay, which could prevent a field being flooded for rice.

Earl Garber of G&H Seed also stressed grid sampling can pay for itself, because less fertilizer may be needed overall.

In another development, Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and regional director for the LSU AgCenter, told farmers Liberty Link rice could be available for their use once the market accepts the genetically modified variety. Liberty Link is resistant to the herbicide glufosinate, which could be used to fight red rice.

Linscombe said farmers should work to persuade millers that the rice industry needs Liberty Link.

The variety has approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he said.

"The issue right now is getting acceptance in the market," he said.

Farmers of other crops, such as soybeans and corn, use transgenic varieties for most of their acreage to combat weed and insect pests, he said.

Farmers throughout the southern United States use the herbicide-resistant variety, Clearfield, a non-GMO developed at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, to fight red rice.

"We do need another system out there to help," Linscombe said.

Moving to information on pests, Dr. Mike Stout, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said a new chemical could be approved to kill adult rice water weevils. The chemical, etofenprox, has been used in Japan for 18 years, he said.

An advantage is its granular form, reducing the potential for drift, he said.

"I’m very optimistic about this compound," Stout said.

Stout also said planting as early as mid-March is a good way to prevent heavy weevil damage.

Turning to planting, Saichuk warned farmers against planting too deeply with seed drills.

"I would never drill it more than an inch deep on soils like these around here," he said.

Saichuk also cautioned against drilling seed into moist ground, and he recommended that adequate time be spent calibrating seed drills.

"It’s the best three hours you can invest," he said.

In other reports during the meetings:

–Dr. Mike Salassi, an LSU AgCenter economist, said rice prices are expected to fall from the current price of $7.40 per hundredweight because of the largest supply on hand since 1986. Rice farmers have used soybeans as a rotational crop, but the discovery of Asian soybean rust in Louisiana and other southern states last fall has raised questions about the future of soybeans in low-yielding areas of South Louisiana.

–Dr. Ken Whitam, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, told farmers in Evangeline and Acadia parishes that the rust probably will emerge in 2005 as a disease that can be overcome by spraying two applications of fungicides. "We’re going to get through rust," Whitam said. "We will spray more than we have, and we will have resistant varieties." Whitam also said it’s possible Louisiana’s summers are too hot for rust to thrive.

–Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said he’s "optimistic but realistic" about soybeans. Irrigation and variety selection can make the difference between a low yield and a high yield, he said.


                    Johnny Saichuk at (337) 788-7547 or
                    Steve Linscombe at (337) 788-7531 or
                    Mike Stout at (337) 578-1837 or
                    Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or

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