The LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station was established in 1909 as a joint venture between the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state’s rice producers. Farsighted rice farmers at that time understood the need for research-based technology to ensure the long-term viability of the industry. Since its establishment over 100 years ago, the Rice Station has been vital to the Louisiana and southern U.S. rice industry. Some highlights of the research conducted at this research facility are discussed below.
Rice variety development has always been a prime objective. Rice varieties developed at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station are grown not only in Louisiana but across the southeastern United States. Over the past 105 years, the Rice Research Station has developed 51 varieties that have increased rice yields, quality and the overall economic viability of the Louisiana and southern U.S. rice industry. Because of its Puerto Rican connection, the Rice Research Station breeding program squeezes three seasons out of a year, accelerating the process of developing new rice varieties. Without the nursery program at Lajas, Puerto Rico, the breeding program would only be able to grow one generation of rice a year. The use of the Puerto Rico nursery greatly facilitates the development and release of new rice varieties. The two latest new varieties released are a Clearfield medium grain (CL271) and a Clearfield Jasmine type (CL-Jazzman). CL271 is a very high yielding line with excellent resistance to blast disease. CL-Jazzman is a high-yielding, soft-cooking, aromatic line that should provide a viable alternative to Jazzman and Jazzman-2 with its high yield and potential use with Clearfield technology. The technology that has led to the advent of Clearfield rice was derived from research conducted at this LSU AgCenter facility. The technology allows for the control of many rice weeds, including the noxious weed red rice. Clearfield rice currently is grown on more than 60 percent of the southern U.S. rice acreage. Most of this acreage is seeded with Clearfield varieties that also were developed at this research station
Additional important areas of research include work on how to most effectively control weeds, insects and diseases that can plague Louisiana rice production. Emphasis in these areas is also placed on the most environmentally sound means of pest control. Research conducted on agronomic practices at the station leads to more economically viable and environmentally sound rice production. This type of research is also conducted on soybeans and wheat at the station. In addition, this project conducts research on sweet sorghum, which may have a place in the region in the future for the production of biofuels.
Another important function of the station is the production of foundation rice seed. Foundation seed is the first step in the commercialization of a rice variety. In a typical year, the foundation seed program grows seed of eight to ten different varieties.
Crawfish production is a vital part of the agricultural landscape in Louisiana. The Rice Station has one of the most extensive crawfish research efforts in the world. This research program places emphasis on production practices, forages and multi-cropping of crawfish with agronomic crops.
It is well known that Louisiana is losing coastal marsh areas at an alarming rate. The Rice Station has an extensive program to develop more resilient and superior native plants that will help rebuild and restore coastal marshlands. Through these efforts, the station has introduced experimental lines of native smooth cordgrass and California bulrush.
Each year, the Rice Research Station highlights its efforts with a field day where the public is invited to visit and view the work being conducted by the LSU AgCenter’s scientists. This year’s field day will be on June 25 and will highlight breeding, production, disease and pest research projects. The field day will begin with field tours at 7:15 a.m., with the last tour rolling at 9 a.m. There will also be a poster session from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. A speaker session will begin at 10:45 a.m., followed by a sponsored lunch. The Rice Research Station is located at 1373 Caffey Road, Rayne, Louisiana 70578. For more information contact Steve Linscombe at 337-788-7531.
Permission granted June 23, 2014 by B. Leonards (LA Farm & Ranch) to republish article on www.lsuagcenter.com