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Make wise variety decisions

With continued rising production costs and market volatility at an alltime high, rice producers have to be as productive as possible, and there is no room to come up short in terms of production. In this article, I would like to highlight some of the new cultivars that are available in 2012.

Rex is a newly released variety from Mississippi State University. This variety has shown yield advantages of three to 10 percent over Cocodrie, and maturity and milling are similar. Rex is a few inches taller than Cocodrie, but has shown excellent standability in the field. Rex is rated moderately susceptible to sheath blight and straighthead and is susceptible to blast, kernel and false smut.

XL753 is a new hybrid from RiceTec released in 2011. It has shown three to 10 percent yield advantage over XL723. Height, maturity, milling and harvestability are similar to XL723. XL754 is another new hybrid from RiceTec. It has shown comparable yields and milling to XL723. XL754 matures about seven to 10 days later than XL723. One of the drawbacks is that it begins to tiller at a very short height. Therefore, it may be hard to quickly establish a flood with its short tillering height. However, XL754 does catch up in growth later in the growing season. XL754 is not as easy to harvest as some other hybrids, especially if it lodges.

There has been more development in CLEARFIELD cultivars recently since this technology is being grown on over 75 percent of the acres in Mississippi. Until recently, there has been a lack of high-yielding cultivars available for producers to grow.

CL162 is variety that was released by Horizon Ag in 2011 and developed by Mississippi State University. This variety has shown average yields approximately five to eight percent less than CL151. However, this variety does have good milling yields. CL162 averages a couple of inches taller than CL151, but has better standability in the field than CL151 and CL111. CL162 is susceptible to sheath blight and moderately susceptible to blast and straighthead. CL142-AR is variety that was released by Horizon Ag in 2010. CL142-AR has shown comparable yields to CL151 but lower milling yields. It is about six inches taller than CL151; however, it has good straw strength. CL152 was released by Horizon Ag in 2011. In preliminary data, CL152 has shown yields to be around five percent less than CL151. However, this variety does have good milling yields. CL152 has averaged a couple of inches taller than CL151 but has shown excellent standability in the field.

CLEARFIELD XL756 is a hybrid that was released by RiceTec in 2011. This hybrid has shown comparable yields and milling to XL729. Clearfield XL756 will mature about seven to 10 days later than XL729. One of the drawbacks is that it begins to tiller at a very short height. Therefore, it may be hard to quickly establish a flood with its short tillering height. CLEARFIELD XL756 does catch up in growth later in the growing season. Also, XL756 is not as easy to harvest as some other hybrids, especially if it lodges.

Please feel free to look over our Mississippi on-farm variety trial information at

Multiple choices

A lifetime ago when I was in graduate school and working on soybeans, most of the varieties in the South were named after Confederate generals. We had varieties named Bragg, Lee, Davis, Forrest and so on. Today, most are named with a combination of numbers and letters and are the result of research by private companies.

Rice is the only major commodity grown in the United States that still depends primarily on public breeding programs for the development of new varieties. The limited acreage of rice grown in the United States is just too small a market to make privately developed pure line varieties profitable. The introduction of hybrid varieties has changed the situation. We now can choose from traditional pure lines, CLEARFIELD pure lines, hybrids and CLEARFIELD hybrids. More varieties mean more choices, which mean more decision making for the producer.

According to surveys conducted by county agents in Louisiana, there were 31 varieties of rice grown in Louisiana last year: 19 long-grain varieties (including hybrids); five medium grain varieties; and seven special purpose varieties. Fourteen of these varieties were CLEARFIELD lines or hybrids, which occupied 65 percent of the acres. The six hybrid varieties (both CLEARFIELD and non-CLEARFIELD) were planted on 24 percent of the acres.

For 2012, the LSU AgCenter’s publication Rice Varieties and Management Tips lists eight recommended long-grain varieties and 12 other long-grain varieties (including hybrids); four recommended medium grain varieties and five special purpose varieties.

Hard copies are available through your county agent or it can be downloaded at: crops/rice/Publications. In this publication are data on yield, maturity, milling quality and reaction to disease, all of which are necessary criteria in deciding what to plant this year.

There also are two new releases in 2012 from the Rice Research Station in Crowley – Mermentau and Della-2. Please refer to the article on page 7 for more information about these varieties and their characteristics.

Foundation seed of Caffey, Cheniere, Cocodrie, Cypress, Della- 2, Jazzman-2, Jupiter and Mermentau are available from the Rice Research Station. Contact your local county agent for details.

Maximize potential

Variety selection is so important to achieving maximum yields with optimum inputs. The variety you select is like the engine in your truck – it carries the workload; you must have the “horsepower” up front to realize peak performance on your farm. Your agronomic and pest management practices can maximize the potential of your variety, but, first, you must select the proper variety for your situation, and each situation is unique.

For instance, in Texas, Presidio is the choice of many farmers in Matagorda County where ratoon crop potential is high. Presidio is early maturing and has good main and excellent ratoon crop potential. Farmers in this area can plant early due to their proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, which has an ameliorating effect on cold, spring temperatures. Thus, farmers are able to harvest their main crop in July and ratoon crop in September – early in, early out – which helps them avoid certain pest and climatic problems occurring later in the season. Another benefit of early planting with an early maturing variety is partial avoidance of very high day and night temperatures during flowering. I used to be skeptical of climate change, but now I am not so sure. If we are in an era of increasing temperatures, panicle blight and heat-caused sterility may become more problematic for our rice crops. Only time will tell.

Also, CLEARFIELD varieties, both conventional and hybrid, are very popular across the Texas Rice Belt, which suggests these varieties are well adapted to a relatively broad range of environmental conditions. Medium grain varieties seem to perform well east of Houston where ratoon cropping is more risky. However, in 2011, at least one farmer in the southwestern part of the Texas Rice Belt produced 52 barrels per acre on Neptune (main crop only).

As far as new varieties, RiceTec will release on a broad basis XP744 in 2012. This hybrid is similar to CLEARFIELD XL745 in terms of maturity, yield, milling quality and disease resistance. XP744 can be used in a rotational, stewardship program with CLEARFIELD XL745. Another new variety is CL152 out of the LSU AgCenter breeding program. This CLEARFIELD, semidwarf, long-grain variety has good resistance to lodging – better than CL151 – and good ratoon crop potential. Caffey, also from the LSU AgCenter, is an early, short stature, medium grain variety. Caffey has excellent yield potential and milling quality.

Jazzman II, another LSU AgCenter offering, is an early maturing, aromatic, long-grain variety possessing good yield potential, milling quality and lodging tolerance. Jazzman II is about four inches shorter and four days earlier than Jazzman. Jazzman II has a very strong aromatic fragrance. This is not a complete list of new varieties, so consult your rice experiment/Extension station and/or USDA facility for more detailed information. Also, talk with your rice farmer neighbors, crop consultants, county Extension agents and seed dealers to make this most important choice for the upcoming 2012 season.

Regardless of variety, Texas farmers should strongly consider applying one of three insecticidal seed treatments to control an array of pest insects attacking rice. CruiserMaxx Rice, Dermacor X-100 and NipsIt INSIDE will be available for use in 2012. Our data consistently show an economical return associated with the use of these seed treatments. All seed treatments control rice water weevil. CruiserMaxx Rice and NipsIt INSIDE also control early seedling pests with piercing- sucking mouthparts and grape colaspis. CruiserMaxx Rice possesses three fungicides to control seedling diseases. Dermacor X- 100 also controls fall armyworm, South American rice miner and stalk borers. Finally, remember when you control pests on the main crop, you get a positive carry-over effect on the ratoon crop.

In conclusion, I hope Texas receives an abundance of precipitation in a hurry. Right now I am looking out my office window and seeing a few raindrops and very cloudy skies. The Beaumont Center received 0.6 inches of rain last night (Dec. 15). Let’s hope and pray this most precious resource fills our reservoirs and rivers before next field season. In the meantime, do what you can to conserve water and support the Colorado Water Issues Committee chaired by Ron Gertson.

Consider every aspect of a variety

Successful production and marketing of rice requires knowledge of plant and grain characteristics. Since a rice grower’s first concern is usually yield performance, it is an important criterion for variety selection, although for certain varieties market quality outweighs yield. Varieties should also be chosen on the basis of their relative maturity so they can fit the cropping schedule of a particular farming operation or are suitable to a particular climatic condition. For example, late-maturing varieties fit early planting schedules; cold-tolerant varieties are needed for cooler areas. Agronomic characteristics, such as lodging and nitrogen response, may also be considered in addition to straw quantity and quality.

Maturity of California rice varieties is classified by the number of days from planting to 50 percent heading in the warmer areas of the state. Maturity differs primarily in the length of the vegetative stage. Beyond the 50 percent heading point, California short and medium grain varieties normally require another 40 to 55 days for grain maturity in warm areas, and five to 15 days more in cool areas. Longgrain varieties usually ripen five to 10 days faster after 50 percent heading than medium grain varieties. Maturity is relative and can be advanced or delayed by planting date, nutritional status, temperature and other environmental factors.

Three categories are used: Very early, early and late maturing. Very early varieties are commonly grown in cooler areas and for late planting when later varieties are not well suited. They reach 50 percent in less than 90 days. An increasing practice is to plant them early in warm areas to advance harvest to allow more time for straw management and to shorten the water season. Maintenance of milling quality can be more of an issue when very early varieties are planted early. The principle public varieties in this category are M103, M104 and the newly released variety M105. M105 is earlier maturing than M206, but not as early as M104. It exhibits very high stable milling yields. Its yield potential is greater than M104, but less than M206. It is less cold tolerate than M104.

Early varieties, principally M205 and M206, occupy roughly 70 to 75 percent of the acreage. They are predominately Calrose-type medium grains and are generally the higher yielding California varieties. Early varieties provide flexibility because they are suited to a wide range of planting dates. They reach 50 percent heading in 90 to 97 days after planting. If you are in an area prone to blast disease, M208 is the variety of choice. Its yield and milling potential is comparable to that of M206.

Late-maturing varieties, notably M401, also provide options for harvest sequencing. However, most late varieties currently grown are used because they have particular characteristics, such as premium quality, rather than for their value in scheduling harvest. They are ideally planted before May 1 because they require more than 100 days to reach 50 percent heading. About 10 percent of the acres are typically planted to late-maturing varieties.

Suggested planting dates for public varieties are shown in the table below. These suggestions assume that average weather conditions will prevail. Within the preferred planting date range, the variety should perform well if other conditions are optimum. Planting outside these ranges increases risk of weather-related damage.

Planting dates are not rigid, and many growers accept the risk and successfully plant outside these ranges. They are meant as guidelines. Warm areas refer to the Sacramento Valley north of Highway 20 and west of Highway 99. Cool areas include south of Highway 20 and east of Highway 99. Cold areas include south Natomas and Escalon areas.

Low temperatures during formation of the pollen mother cell (microsporogenesis) is a primary cause of panicle sterility (blanking). This physiological stage coincides with the time when the collar of the flag leaf is adjacent to the next to the last leaf, and when the panicle is still entirely inside the boot. The cause is low temperature for a sufficient duration, particularly if it occurs for several successive nights. While many combinations of time and temperature can cause blanking, an overnight low of 55 degrees or lower can be used as an alert that temperatures may be low enough to cause damage. All varieties are screened for tolerance to blanking.

More about agronomic characteristics of California public varieties can be found at

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