Rice Farming

Delta F.A.R.M.

Proactive stewardship practices
enhance environment, may increase profits

By Carroll Smith

Missouri rice producer Jeff Stanley says there are two keys to successful rice production. “Of course, No. 1 is good yield,” says Stanley, who farms near Dexter. “Number two is weed control. However, if you don’t have good weed control, especially red rice control, you’re not going to make the good yields.”

Stanley’s main weed control problems are coffeebean, jointvetch and red rice. “I’ve had fields grown up in red rice, and they fell flat on the ground,” he says. “You don’t get any return off your money there.”

He tried a little Clearfield rice in 2007 and liked the resulting red rice control so much that in 2008 he planted 1,200 acres of rice, and all but 150 were Clearfield. “We went to the Clearfield rice system because it controls red rice,” Stanley says. “Newpath and Clearpath herbicides control red rice and pick up other troublesome weeds, including smartweed.”

Coffeebean, jointvetch pose problems
However, Stanley also needed something to control jointvetch and coffeebean. “One of my rice fields was so notorious for coffeebean and jointvetch that we had to hand pull weeds in it some years,” he says.

“Those 44 acres always looked like a jungle. We applied Strada this year, and that field was the cleanest it has ever been in the 28 years that we’ve farmed it.”

Stanley applied Strada on 1,050 acres – 90 percent of his total rice acreage. He applied Newpath first and later came back with a tankmix of Clearpath and Strada. “This whole farm was eaten up with coffeebean and jointvetch, but Strada cleaned them up in 2008,” he says.

By teaming Strada with Newpath or Clearpath, Stanley now can economically and effectively control his troublesome weed spectrum. He says, “This year, the Strada/Clearpath tankmix controlled coffeebean, jointvetch and red rice, as well as smartweed, signalgrass, crabgrass, morningglories and eclipta.

“Tankmixing the two materials also has simplified application. Strada is a granulated material that mixes easily in your tank and tankmixes well with other herbicides, such as Newpath and Clearpath. I mainly used a ground rig to apply the material.

“Additionally, in the past when we were mixing four or five products, it was time consuming because we had to measure all five materials. Now, we just tankmix Newpath or Clearpath with Strada, pump it in, and we’re ready to go.”

Use a good rice consultant
Using a good rice consultant is another asset that Stanley has in his struggle to prevent weeds from competing with his rice. In addition to helping Stanley with his weed control program, consultant Wendell Minson “lets us know when to spray and how soon to get the flood on. He also recommends chemicals, when to fertilize and when to drain the fields. He’s with us throughout the whole season.

“Minson also helps us with variety selection,” Stanley adds. “During the wintertime, we’ll sit down and figure out which fields are going back into rice the following year and discuss any problem fields we had the previous year and what to do about them.

“We have rotated rice with beans for the last nine years. Before then, we also planted some corn. This year, we did put some fields back into rice that were in rice the previous year. Minson thought it would be okay as long as they were planted to Clearfield, and they worked out well.”

With his soil type and inputs, Stanley expects his rice varieties to average 170 bushels per acre. “In 2007, we averaged about 165 to 170 bushels per acre across 1,000 acres,” he says. “We had a lot of Trenasse that made 182 bushels per acre. We have farmed in Missouri for 28 years. We moved down here in 1980 from Clay City, Ill., where we farmed corn and soybeans. We raised rice the first year here and have been with it ever since.”

Isagro USA contributed information for this article.