LSU AgCenter researchers honored at rice meeting

Bruce Schultz  |  3/7/2016 8:07:25 PM

Team Award

Four LSU AgCenter researchers were honored with the Distinguished Rice Research Team Award at the 36th meeting of the Rice Technical Working Group March 3 for their work to help farmers use the Clearfield rice technology. From left are rice breeder Steve Linscombe, agronomist Dustin Harrell, plant pathologist Don Groth, weed scientist Eric Webster, and Lee Tarpley RTWG secretary from Texas A&M University. Photo by Bruce Schultz

Larry White

The Distinguished Rice Service Award at the Rice Technical Working Group meeting in Galveston was awarded to Larry White, retired director of the Foundation Seed Program at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. Photo by Bruce Schultz

Poster Winners Sam Rustom Eric Bergeron Ben Mcknight and Eric Webster

Winners of the 2016 Rice Technical Working Group poster contest in Galveston, Texas, were LSU graduate students Sam Rustom, Eric Bergeron and Ben McKnight and their major professor, Dr. Eric Webster. McKnight was the lead author on the project titled ““Activity and Control of Common Mid-South Rice Weeds with Benzobicyclon.” Photo by Bruce Schultz

(03/07/16) GALVESTON, Texas – Four LSU AgCenter scientists were honored at the 2016 Rice Technical Working Group’s meeting held March 1-4.

Steve Linscombe, Dustin Harrell, Don Groth and Eric Webster received the Distinguished Rice Research Team Award at the 36th meeting of the Rice Technical Working Group for their work to help farmers use the Clearfield rice technology.

More than 430 rice experts from across the U.S., and many from overseas, attended the conference. The RTWG meets every other year in a rice-growing state for scientists to exchange the results of their research and to announce new findings. The 2018 event will be in Long Beach, California.

“This team has played a major role in the implementation of Clearfield in the southern rice-growing states,” said Lee Tarpley, a plant physiologist at Texas A&M University and RTWG secretary.

Tarpley said the team assisted farmers with managing water and controlling diseases and weeds.

Since the original release in 2002, 11 Clearfield varieties have been developed at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley.

Considerable improvements have been made in yields, weed control and disease resistance for Clearfield, in addition to lower seeding rates, Tarpley said.

Linscombe accepted the award for the group and said advancements with Clearfield were made because others around the U.S., including many at the meeting, also worked on the projects.

“It’s through this spirit of cooperation that we’ve been able to help the rice industry,” Linscombe said.

In addition, Larry White, retired foundation seed director at the Rice Research Station was honored with the 2016 Distinguished Rice Service Award.

Linscombe said the station’s foundation seed program became a superior facility, “thanks primarily to Mr. White’s efforts. Mr. White understood that the primary function of the foundation seed program is the support of the rice industry.”

White, who retired last year after 35 years, usually arrived early at work and was in the field on Saturdays and Sundays during growing season, Linscombe said. “He was a very positive role model at the station.”

White will be in Puerto Rico most March to oversee the harvest of a seed increase for the new Provisia rice technology.

Also at the conference, LSU graduate students Ben McKnight, Sam Rustom and Eric Bergeron and their major professor, Eric Webster, won the RTWG poster contest for their entry that addressed the use of the herbicide benzobicyclon in water-seeded rice.

A former AgCenter rice breeder, Farman Jodari, received the Distinguished Rice Service Award. Jodari was at the AgCenter from 1983 until 1999, when he became a rice breeder at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, California.

Several AgCenter rice researchers were among those making the 140 presentations on their work during the past two years since the last RTWG conference in New Orleans. Presenters included experts in breeding, economics, agronomy, weeds, insects, disease and processing.

It was the first RTWG gathering for Adam Famoso, who joined the Rice Research Station faculty last year as a rice breeder.

Famoso said the event gave him the chance to make new connections with people for collaboration on genetic marker technology that can be used in the breeding process. “It’s a good opportunity for networking and catching up with people you already know,” he said.

It was the 16th meeting Groth attended. “There was a lot more interest in diseases other than sheath blight and blast,” Groth said.

Increased work on bacterial panicle blight and smut suggests those diseases are becoming more of a problem, he said. “The good side of it is people are looking at possible solutions,” which include more than just using fungicides.

Groth said he picked up new ideas for his work. “I talked to some people, and we’ve got one or two research projects we had not thought of.”

Webster, chairman of this year’s program, said RTWG is a cooperative exchange. “It gives us a chance every couple of years to get together and to share research and extension ideas with people from other states.”

He said this year’s session had more international participation.

The presentations included considerable interest in herbicide-resistant weeds and the new Provisia technology, which was first announced at the RTWG in New Orleans, Webster said.

Mark Hussey, dean of agriculture at Texas A&M University, said groups such as the RTWG will be essential in helping provide enough food to feed 9 billion people by 2050, which will require twice as much food as current levels.

The U.S. is not producing enough graduates in agriculture to meet future needs, Hussey said.

Craig Nessler, director of Texas A&M Agrilife Research Center, said the importance of agriculture is being overlooked.

“The only essential industry is agriculture,” he said. “The public just does not get that.”

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