Rice Farming

Taking It To The Field

New Clearfield variety set to launch in ’09

By Carroll Smith

Prior to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike rolling through the region, rice farmers in south Louisiana and Texas were reporting outstanding yields, following an exceptional rice-growing year. One of the players contributing to the excitement in 2008 was CL151 – the newest Clearfield rice variety release from Horizon Ag.

Fred Zaunbrecher, who farms with his brothers Phillip, Paul and Bill in Acadia and Lafayette Parishes, planted 110 acres of CL151 this year, and on Aug. 19, cut 59 barrels, or 212 bushels, on that field. The south Louisiana farmer says he has cut in the lower 60s on some smaller fields in the past, but not on a field as large as 110 acres.

As a seed grower, Zaunbrecher was surprised back in the spring when the seed company asked them to plant the field at a seeding rate of 47 pounds. “We didn’t think that would be enough, but we water-seeded that 47 pounds per acre in early April, and it just took off and never stopped,” he says. “I knew it was going to yield well, but I didn’t expect 59 barrels.”

The Zaunbrechers were fortunate enough to finish up their first crop before Hurricane Gustav made landfall, and even pitched in to help their neighbors get their crops out, too. Kim Frey also was able to get his rice out before the hurricanes hit.

Like Zaunbrecher, he experienced high yields with CL151 – which they grew for seed rice – cutting in the 55- to 58-barrel range on 350 acres. However, Frey, who farms with his son, Thomas, near Mowater, La., says their 600 acres of CL161 also performed very well this year – upper 40s and lower 50s.

“We had an exceptional growing season,” Frey says. “We didn’t experience the extreme heat ranges that we normally do in the summer. Even though it was hot, it didn’t get up in the low 100s. We’ve planted CL161 for six or seven years, and these are the highest yields we’ve made on it as well. Although the environmental conditions played a big role in the high yields we experienced in 2008, I still think the 151 is going to yield better than 161.”

Thomas Frey notes that CL151 “really had some vigor to it and tillered very well. The yields were just outstanding, and it was easy to cut.”

Kim Frey adds that CL151’s stalk seems to be fairly tough, and it stood well although they pushed some of it to the limit as far as fertilizer. However, he notes that at this point he has only planted the variety for one year in perfect growing weather, so he is anxious to see how it performs in upcoming years.

Weather affects 2008 ratoon crop
Typically, in south Louisiana and Texas, rice farmers have a ratoon, or second, crop. Both the Zaunbrechers and the Freys have ratoon crops on their CL151 fields, but they don’t expect them to do very well this year because of some early cool spells that came in and shut the plants down.

“Any grain that wasn’t full at the time just stopped growing,” Zaunbrecher says.

As for his initial reaction to CL151, Zaunbrecher says the variety is going to have a fit where they have red rice problems and can make two Newpath applications and not have to worry about using pinpoint flooding.

“We’re going to plant some 151 early next year on the ground where we have potential red rice problems,” he explains. “We normally planted conventional varieties on it and tried to control red rice with pinpoint flooding. Depending on the weather, sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.

“And, so far it looks like CL151 is going to reach or surpass that yield barrier that we were hoping a new Clearfield variety would do.”

Pick up extra August harvest days
In Arkansas, crop consultant Jason McGee looked at 550 acres of CL151 in 2008, predominantly in Cross and Poinsett Counties, west of Crowley’s Ridge.

“We didn’t get to plant as early as we would have liked to this year,” he says. “I usually plant the last week of March, but most of the rice did not go in until the middle of April.”

On one of the farms he works with, McGee says they planted Francis first and came back nine days later and planted CL151.Toward the end of the season, the 151 had closed the gap and caught up with the Francis. He notes that although they harvested the CL151 first, both varieties were ready at the same time.
Why does McGee think this is significant?

“The significance for me is that when we get into these early planting windows like we are set up for next year, at least in my area, we will get some harvest days in August,” he says. “If we can get the CL151 planted the last of March or the first two weeks of April, we probably will be able to harvest those fields by Aug. 20 or 22. We usually never get a full week of August harvesting. This is a huge advantage from a grower’s standpoint.”

Arkansas consultant says, ‘plant Clearfield first’
Another advantage McGee sees in CL151 is that it fits well in his particular area where there are more contour levees than precision-leveled land.

“Because it is short, we struggled with CL131 at harvest because we couldn’t get a full header width between the levees,” he says. “We don’t have that situation with CL151.”

Since there is such a high percentage of Clearfield varieties being planted, McGee says he will recommend that his farmer clients plant their Clearfield varieties first – followed by their conventional varieties – to avoid a yield decrease.

When asked how he thought CL151 compared to other varieties, McGee says with 161 and 171-AR, he sees 160- to 170-bushel rice.

“I think CL151 will compete with Francis and Wells from a yield standpoint,” he says. “It’s going to get us up there in the 180- to 190-bushels dry range.

“When all is said and done this year, I believe we will average in the low 180s with CL151,” McGee says. “We are finished cutting, but I have to base that number off of bin measurements because we haven’t hauled it all in. The final yield will depend on test weight, and we won’t know what that is until we come across the scales.”

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or csmith@onegrower.com.

What’s waiting in the wings?

As CL151 stands poised for its commercial launch this coming season, another rising star is right on its heels for 2010.

Randy Ouzts, Horizon Ag’s general manager, says, “Our next generation lines are truly exciting, and Horizon is committing significant resources in bringing these new products to market as they offer growers a great opportunity for profits with our products. With the 2009 launch of CL151, we’ll also have another long grain variety coming forward that has been named CL111.

“This variety, developed by LSU AgCenter’s Dr. Steve Linscombe, is very comparable to CL151 in yield and performance with one distinct difference,” he says. “It’s much quicker in maturity and has been as many as five to six days earlier than any current CL variety we have.

“For harvest purposes, as well as avoiding weather issues, we see CL111 to be a perfect complement to CL151 and our other CL varieties. We currently have it in a winter increase in Puerto Rico and are planning for an expedited increase in 2009 and a full launch of the variety in 2010.”