LSU AgCenter weed scientist wins Distinguished Research Award at international rice conference

Bruce Schultz, Linscombe, Steven D.

News Release Distributed 02/26/10

BILOXI, Miss. – Dr. Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, received the Distinguished Research and Education Award on Wednesday (Feb. 24) at an international rice conference held by the Rice Technical Working Group.

Webster was cited by the RTWG for his work with the Clearfield rice variety and for helping obtain federal permits for herbicides such as Newpath. He has had 300 articles published, including 46 in refereed journals. More than 8,000 copies of a weed seedling identification guide that he and his co-workers and graduate students developed have been distributed across the rice growing regions of the United States. Last year, Webster received an F. Avalon Daggett Professorship in Rice Research at the LSU AgCenter.

Dr. David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for research, said Webster is well-deserving of the RTWG award.

“We’re proud of the work he does,” Boethel said. “He’s on the leading edge of weed management research, and he’s truly worthy of this prestigious award.”

Boethel said the LSU AgCenter was well-represented at the 33rd RTWG conference, held every even-numbered year in a major rice-producing state. The next conference in 2012 will be in Arkansas.

“We are certainly providing a lot of expertise to the rice industry,” Boethel said. “In every session, we’ve got people in all those areas working on projects and making presentations.”

Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station director, said rice experts attending the event were from 10 countries, including the United States, Kenya, Philippines, Italy, South Korea, Colombia, Japan and Uruguay.

Linscombe said the RTWG was organized more than 60 years ago as a forum for U.S. rice scientists to exchange information and to foster collaboration in research.

“It has evolved into a meeting that is international in scope, and it normally has 300 to 450 participants,” Linscombe said.

Scientists make presentations on their work with talks and a poster sessions that cover six areas: plant protection from insects and diseases, breeding new varieties, agronomy, weed control, economics and utilization and quality.

But Linscombe said one of the strengths of the gathering is the informal setting that allows scientists to discuss ideas with their colleagues.

He said rice farming, which has only 3 million acres nationwide, has a small number of rice scientists conducting research. “It’s imperative that rice scientists cooperate to the greatest extent possible to maximize the amount of research and new technology.”

The major plant protection issues focused on the rice water weevil, an insect pest of rice, and fungal diseases.

Dr. Don Groth, LSU AgCenter pathologist, said research has determined that fungicides can sometimes decrease yields when used on a field without a significant disease problem.

Dr. Natalie Hummel, LSU AgCenter entomologist, gave an overview of her work on seed treatments for the rice water weevil. She said farmers can justify the use of Dermacor, the most expensive seed treatment, because the benefit could mean a yield increase of up to 1,000 pounds per acre.

She said a project demonstrating different seed treatment compounds will be conducted again this year, and it increases the LSU AgCenter’s contacts with growers. “Some of the people we are working with have never worked with the university before.”

Other LSU AgCenter presenters included:

– Dr. Herry Utomo and Dr. Ida Wenefrida presented their work using genetic markers to develop rice with increased levels of protein.

– Dr. Xueyan Sha, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, discussed his research using anther culture to increase genetic diversity in southern long-grain rice.

– Weiki Li, a visiting rice breeder from China, provided an update on new rice hybrids at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.

– Justin Hensley, LSU AgCenter weed science doctoral student, gave details on a study of herbicide drift on rice seed.

– Anthony Rivera, LSU AgCenter’s farm manager at the winter nursery in Puerto Rico, discussed goals and accomplishments at the facility.

– Dr. Brenda Tubana, LSU AgCenter agronomist, talked about a study of a technique for using canopy reflectance to determine yield potential.

– Dr. Michael Salassi, LSU AgCenter economist, discussed a study of land rent for rice farming.

– Dr. Clayton Hollier, LSU AgCenter pathologist, reviewed rice diseases and their causes.

– Webster gave an overview of rice weed management strategies in Mississippi and Louisiana.

– Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, reviewed the 2009 growing season in Louisiana.

– Dr. Mike Stout, LSU AgCenter entomologist, talked about a study of the effects of different seeding rates on rice water weevil populations.

– Dr. Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, discussed response of rice to zinc fertilization on soil with low zinc levels and a high pH.

Nathan Childs, U.S. Department of Agriculture economist, said the 2010 crop will probably have 3.1 million acres, and the price is not expected to increase much more than last year’s prices because of a large carryover of the 2009 crop. He said medium-grain prices are likely to slip.

He said the amount of rice imports into the U.S. will continue to increase during the next few years. “The only thing that might mitigate that is the Jazzman variety released this past year.” Jazzman was developed by Sha as an alternative to Thai Jasmine, and farmers are expected to increase acreage for the variety this year.

A representative of the Philippines-based organization International Rice Research Institute, detailed work on varieties of rice that can tolerate drought, high salinity levels and excessive flooding for Asian countries.

Bruce Schultz
1/4/2011 1:14:32 AM
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