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In This Issue
New Canal Delivers
Goin’ Mobile
Late-Season Weed Control
Pivot-Irrigated Rice: A Learning Process
Protect On-Farm Grain Storage
Tracking The Tadpole Shrimp
The Growing Regulatory Burden
Arkansas’ Waiting Game
From the Editor
Rice Producers Forum
USA Rice Federation
Specialists Speaking
Industry News
Specialist Speaking print email

Sheath blight study justifies scouting.

Looking back over 2011 is the way I want to see it, behind me. I thought 2010 was hot, but 2011 was even hotter and it felt like it would never end. While heat and its effects dominated much of the year, there are other aspects of the year worth reviewing. March was warmer-than-normal in a drier-than-normal spring, resulting in extensive early planting. April was cooler-than-normal as were the first two weeks of May. Then Mother Nature opened the gates of hell and heat set in for the remainder of the season. Early planning paid off. Those who were able to plant early produced record yields. At this writing, the LSU AgCenter has not yet determined the state yield; however, the USDA’s latest yield estimate is 6,400 pounds per acre. We think it will end up a little higher.

The 2011 year was also a year of ironies. While drought conditions caused shortages of surface water on the west side of the state, the Mississippi River threatened to inundate the northeastern rice-growing region. More than one instance of Mississippi River seep water flooded crops on one end of a field, while irrigation was taking place on the other end of the same field. By good fortune, serious flooding was limited. We are still much below normal in rainfall for most of the state.

Whether it was a consequence of the cool, dry spring or not, I do not know, but we also experienced an unusually high incidence of
early season insects normally considered to be insignificant.

Dr. Hummel and I were kept busy. Between the two of us, we picked up a few cases of Colaspis beetles and chinch bugs, which are not that unusual, but we also had problems with billbugs and sugarcane beetles. Both of the latter two insects have been reported in the literature; however, in the nearly 20 years of working with rice, I have never seen them in the field at that time of the year.

Around mid-season, county agent Jimmy Meaux reported finding what he thought were Mexican rice borers in the western side of Calcasieu Parish which borders Texas. We were able to confirm them as Mexican rice borers when more were collected the following week. Prior to this discovery, reports of their presence in Louisiana were limited to pheromone trap catches of male moths, not larvae. This is just one more pest we will have to deal with from now on.

When several farmers in Acadia and Evangeline Parishes complained last year that fields treated with strobilurin-containing fungicides still had a lot of disease pressure, it was attributed to several possibilities. This year, the same and other farmers in the area encountered even greater disease pressure following fungicide application than they did in 2009. Syngenta got involved as did Drs. Don Groth and Clayton Hollier. Ultimately, Syngenta confirmed resistance in collections of the sheath blight fungus Rhizoctonia solani. It will take a concerted effort among growers, fungicide manufactures and the LSU AgCenter to develop management practices to deal with this problem.

Two years ago we had numerous complaints about Newpath-resistant rice. These reports consisted of what we believe were some outcrosses to red rice and volunteer hybrid rice showing up in these fields. The incidence of these problems in 2011 was much less than it had been in 2010. In 2012, many farmers will rotate back to the fields that had been planted in 2010. It will be interesting to see if the problems occur again.

High temps again

From the time the grain drills began to put seed in the ground and the combines began to harvest, this past year was quietly reminiscent of 2010. The obvious biggest difference, though, is the amount of acres being reduced by over half in 2011.

The lower rice acres were the result of lower rice yields and market price in 2010 and rotational crops showing higher potential profits. If this remains to be the case into 2012, Mississippi could see more acres being cut from production.

Looking through the season, the conditions during planting were good for the most part of the Mississippi Delta. However, planting was delayed in the northern counties due the excessive rainfall during the spring. Overall, weed control was an aboveaverage year, with adequate rainfall to prevent the weeds from getting stressed and keeping the preemergence herbicides activated.

With a good start on the year and very few problems, it was very possible to achieve above average yields. However, high temperatures once again plagued this year’s crop during pollination. Actually, if you looked on the calendar, the same days we had extreme heat in 2010 were within a day of the extreme heat period in 2011, which occurred the first week in August.

Temperatures during a five day period averaged 102 degree F for the high and 80 degrees F for the low at Stoneville, Miss. Two key features were different in the weather this year from
2010. First, the average low temperatures were a few degrees warmer than in 2010. Secondly, after this specific heat period during the first week in August in 2011, temperatures began to cool down to near normal conditions. In 2010, the above average heat persisted through September.

As we saw last year, field yields on rice that was attempting to pollinate in this extreme heat period yielded less than 100 bu/A (4,500lb/A). Milling yields were somewhat lower on this rice as well. However, in general, milling yields do not appear as bad as last year, which is probably due to the lack of persistency of heat compared to last year.

With all of this being said, some years can be quite different, and some can be more of the same. As always, we hope for a more prosperous one in the year to come.

Water woes persist

The main thing that stands out for me about the 2011 Texas rice crop is the persistent drought. As of the beginning of November, the Beaumont Center (on the east side of the Texas Rice Belt) has received about 50 percent of “normal” precipitation, while the David R. Wintermann Rice Research Station at Eagle Lake (on the west side of the Texas Rice Belt) has received about 30 percent of “normal” precipitation. In addition, summer temperatures were very high. In fact, Houston had 32 days this summer with maximum temperatures of 100 degrees or higher. I believe this is a record (or close to a record). So, farmers had to flush more frequently, and many complained as soon as they completed a flush, the field was ready for another one.

Associated with these water problems were more weed issues because each flush germinated another batch of weed seeds. In addition, some farmers near the Gulf Coast on the east side experienced salt problems early in the season, which caused them to replant. Towards the end of the season, rice farmers were cutting and baling main crop stubble and selling round bales for about $50 each to cattle ranchers who were desperate for hay due to the drought. Average number of bales was about four to six per acre.

Some farmers also produced a ratoon crop after removing bales from the field. However, those who did not apply water to the ratoon crop soon enough probably suffered considerable yield reductions. Of real concern is the possibility of agricultural water restrictions in 2012 by suppliers such as the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Lower Neches Valley Authority. This uncertainty is causing our farmers to make difficult planting decisions before the 2012 growing season begins.

Despite these problems, in 2011, our farmers, in general, produced high yields on the main crop. Based on the Texas Rice Crop Survey, the hybrids averaged approximately 7,600-8,200 lb/A; Presidio 6,000 lb/A; CL151 6,500 lb/A; Cocodrie 6,800 lb/A; Catahoula 6,700 lb/A; Cheniere 6,300 lb/A and Neptune 6,800 lb/A. Highest milling yields were reported for Cheniere. In general, main crop yields were much better in 2011 than 2010. Surprisingly, little panicle blight was reported in 2011 (unlike 2010), although climatic conditions were conducive to its development.

At the time of writing this article, the Texas Rice Crop Survey had not compiled 2011 ratoon crop yield information; however, based on my informal survey, ratoon yields in 2011 were very erratic – from about 1,600 lb/A to 5,600 lb/A. Presidio continues to perform well in Matagorda County where both main and ratoon crop yields exceeded 13,000 lb/A for some farmers.

Most farmers were able to plant early because of dry conditions; however, cool temperatures and persistent winds during the day and night delayed rice emergence and affected stands – particularly the hybrids. Aerial applications were postponed, so timely applications of fertilizer and pesticides often were delayed. Because of spring cool temperatures, early rice growth was slowed and may have affected the breakdown of herbicides within the rice plant leading to some phytotoxicity. Persistent winds also caused injury to foliage.

As far as the insecticidal seed treatments (CruiserMaxx Rice, Dermacor X-100 and NipsIt INSIDE), all performed well against the spectrum of insects specific to each. Tenchu 20SG also performed well against rice stink bug and grasshoppers. We hope to have another Experimental Use Permit for NipsIt INSIDE for 2012 and a full federal label to follow shortly.

2011 – Another mild season

Overall, the 2011 California rice-growing season was another that challenged farmers. A repeat of the previous year started with a wet, cool spring followed by a fairly mild summer. Much of the rice was planted in a narrow window mid-late May. From a positive standpoint, temperatures did not dip as low as they did during the sensitive pollen meiosis stage of the 2010 crop and this allowed most growers to escape much of the cold temperature blanking issues we observed last year. An estimated 588,000 acres of rice were planted in 2011 for a 6 percent increase over 2010. Estimated statewide yield is currently at 8,400 lbs/A for a 380 lbs/A increase over 2010.

Early season rains led to delayed planting of the majority of California rice acres but fields were planted rapidly without much interruption once operations got rolling. Stand establishment, weed control and nitrogen management are particularly problematic in wet springs like the one we had.

To compound the issues associated with late-planted rice, temperatures were fairly mild during the months of June-August for the most part, and this stretched out the growing season even further. During years with such conditions, we frequently observe an extended vegetative growth stage, delayed heading and maturity but good yields. Conditions for early harvested rice were good while a period of strong north winds led to some lodging on later harvested rice. Compounding the lodged rice were intermittent rains, some locally heavy, that led to delays in harvest and may result in some lower quality rice once appraised. Overall, yields appear to be better than average but quality assessment of the crop is still to be determined.

Pest issues of concern in 2011 included an old foe as well as a new one. This was the second year in a row that we have observed heavier-than-normal rice blast disease pressure in California. Incidences of rice blast were observed in fields far removed from the region of Colusa and Glenn Counties where this disease has been endemic since 1996. Similar conditions during the 2010 and 2011 crop years, including late planting and moderate summer temperatures, are believed to have provided conditions that were favorable to disease development over a larger geographical area.

Winged primrose willow (Ludwigia decurrens) was identified in a northern California rice field this fall. This is the first documented occurrence of winged primrose willow (WPW) west of Texas. Native to South America, WPW is highly competitive and considered to be an invasive weed species. This weed was found principally along field margins, levees and ditch banks. Eradication efforts are being led by County Agricultural Commissioners. UC and USDA researchers are working on characterizing this population and evaluating management strategies for eradication.

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