Diseases strike rice fields despite lack of rain

Schultz Bruce, Linscombe, Steven D.

News Release Distributed 06/16/11

CROWLEY, La. – Even though rainfall has been sparse, rice fields could still be afflicted by disease normally associated with a wet year, according to Don Groth, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist.

Groth told farmers at the Acadia Parish Rice and Soybean Field Day on June 15 that he has found sheath blight and leaf blast in fields. Applying fungicide at the proper time is critical, he said .

The recent hot and dry weather will set up conditions for bacterial panicle blight, he said, but no treatment is available for that disease. He said plants that receive high rates of nitrogen will be more susceptible to panicle blight.

Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, advised farmers to watch their crop for zinc deficiency. He said soil testing can reveal if a field has insufficient zinc levels. He said the condition causes rice plants to absorb a toxic amount of iron and aluminum. Zinc can be added to a crop either with granular applications or a foliar treatment.

Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said a new Clearfield rice variety, CL152, is being grown for seed this year. It will offer another Clearfield choice to complement those already available. The variety is not blast resistant, but it is not susceptible like CL151, he said, although it is susceptible to sheath blight.

He said four Clearfield lines grown last year show promise in yield testing, and they are being grown again this year. “They showed significant advances over CL151 and CL152.”

Xueyan Sha, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, is working on development of a Jazzman line of rice with the Clearfield trait.

Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, showed farmers a series of tests of numerous herbicides and combinations of different chemicals on different weeds.

Webster said a new product, Permit Plus, should not be used at a reduced rate because that would prevent the material from effectively controlling ducksalad and alligatorweed.

He said he relies on a lab at South Dakota State University to determine conclusively what herbicides have inadvertently drifted onto crops, but he said that facility may close because of budget cuts. “I don’t know what we’re going to do if they shut that lab down.”

Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said the rice crop looks good, but plant heights are generally shorter than usual.

He said saltwater is plaguing farmers close to the coast in Vermilion, Jefferson Davis and Cameron parishes. “I know of 600 acres that guys have given up on.”

He said the crop endured record low May temperatures and record highs for the same month within a two-week period. That probably stressed the plants and may be responsible for causing some panicles to be void of grain in early planted rice.

Saichuk said the state’s rice acreage will be down this year, especially in the northeast part of the state. He said the rice stockpiled from last year is generally not good quality. “I’m hoping that means at harvest we will have a real good cash price.”

Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said some farmers in the state’s sugarcane growing region are plowing up their bean crops because of a drought. He said the state may have 1 million acres of soybeans planted, but the harvest will be less because some of the crop will not be worth harvesting.

Yields will be affected by the lack of rainfall, he said, but high bean prices will make up for some of the losses.

So far, insects and disease have not been a problem for soybeans, but stinkbugs recently found in corn will move to bean fields after corn is harvested.

Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter aquaculture professor, showed farmers a dozen tanks installed at the South Farm on the Rice Research Station at Crowley that will be used for crawfish research. He said the tanks will allow for more control of crawfish and their growing conditions. He said one project that will be started when the tanks are used for the first time this fall will enable better prediction of growth stages.

Bruce Schultz

6/17/2011 2:40:50 AM
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