Bruce Schultz | 7/16/2005 1:41:18 AM
CROWLEY – Farmers got updates on agricultural methods and problems in a series of field days held this week (July 11-15) in Acadia, Evangeline and Vermilion parishes.
At Wednesday’s (July 13) Vermilion Parish field day, held at Errol Lounsberry’s farm, Dr. Boris Castro, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said a new pest, tentatively named the South American Rice Miner, has hit six fields in Vermilion Parish so far this year. He said the insect, which was identified last winter by a Smithsonian Insitution entomologist, wiped out a 200-acre field in Cameron Parish.
Currently, the best way of avoiding the insect is not to plant late, Castro said, adding that no labeled insecticide is available for the pest.
One farmer flooded a 7-acre field overnight, then drained the water to see if that would kill the insect larvae, Castro said, and it worked.
At the Evangeline Parish field day, Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and Southwest Region director for the LSU AgCenter, said some new lines of Clearfield rice show yield potential. With the progress that can be made at the AgCenter’s Rice Research Station at Crowley and its winter nursery in Puerto Rico, some of those lines could result in new releases to farmers by 2007, Linscombe said.
LSU AgCenter researcher Dr. Xueyan Sha said he is continuing efforts at developing aromatic varieties to compete with Basmati and Jasmine rice from Southeast Asia, and AgCenter researcher Dr. Qi Ren Chu said he has 11 long grain lines that show potential, including one that may be submitted for release this year.
Dr. Ray McClain, an LSU AgCenter crawfish specialist, told Acadia Parish farmers that growing a second crop of rice can hinder crawfish production because the vegetative matter left in the field from harvest can lower oxygen levels in the water to the critical point.
In addition, McClain said a second crop of rice reduces the opportunity for regrowth of the rice plants, which is needed for a healthy crawfish population. Draining a field to cut a second rice crop also can result in the loss of some young crawfish, he said.
In another report during the Acadia Parish field day, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Dr. David Lanclos said that if South Louisiana’s soybean crop can get through the next few weeks without an outbreak of Asian soybean rust, then any damage from the disease this year will be minimal.
"Down here, we’re looking at four to five weeks before we get out of the danger zone," Lanclos said at Tuesday’s (July 12) Acadia Parish Rice and Soybean Field, held at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.
Spores similar to the kind that cause rust have been found in the past few weeks in Tennessee and Kentucky, but no actual outbreaks have occurred so far in the United States, according to Lanclos.
"The bottom line is, the spores are flying around," Lanclos said.
Even though spores morphologically similar to rust also were found in North Louisiana, Louisiana still is considered a no-rust state, Lanclos said, adding that means there is no recommendation for spraying Louisiana beans.
On the other hand, Lanclos said soybean farmers in Northwest Louisiana are in need of rain.
Farmers also heard that the threat from red-shouldered stink bugs is as bad this year as it was last year. The insect inflicted considerable damage on last year’s dismal soybean crop, experts said.
"This year is pretty much shaping up like last year," said LSU entomologist Dr. Matt Baur.
He said acephate is the only chemical permitted to be used against the stink bugs in soybeans.
In some cases, stink bug populations already have exceeded by two to three times the threshold where spraying pesticides is recommended, Baur said.
The LSU AgCenter entomologist also said there may be some merit to the theory that spraying a population early will decrease the numbers for the rest of the growing season.
Baur said Texas growers have had problems with the insect and that it has been found in Louisiana in limited numbers as far north as Alexandria.
Soybean acreage in Acadia Parish has dropped by roughly half from last year, according to Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia Parish.
Courville said that last year’s total was 65,000 acres, but this year’s planting dropped to somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 acres.
Similar field days are being held across the state this summer to share the latest LSU AgCenter research and educational information with farmers.
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or firstname.lastname@example.org