Rice Farming

 - Specialists Speaking -


Risk versus reward

Extension Rice Agronomist

Variety selection is always at the top of the list of any farmer’s decisions at the beginning of the season. The best approach is to plant the best variety available that will provide an acceptable level of risk. As an advisor, my approach is to provide you with reasons why not to grow a specific variety rather than which variety to grow. This kind of advice is based on risk versus reward for a given field situation.

A new Clearfield variety, CL 151, will be available for 2009 and will likely represent a sizeable amount of acres. CL 151 has shown higher yield potential than CL 161, CL 171 or CL 131 and straw strength similar to Francis. The major considerations for growing this variety are blast, straighthead and lodging. We have found this variety to be extremely susceptible to blast and straighthead. However, if planted in fields that are not high risk for these diseases, this variety has extremely good yield potential. The recommended nitrogen fertilizer rate for this variety is 135 lbs/acre of actual N. Be careful if more than this is applied because lodging is a significant concern.

Two new conventional varieties released by LSU AgCenter should be available this year. Catahoula is a semi-dwarf long grain similar to Cocodrie with good blast resistance. The yield potential appears to be similar to Cocodrie. According to our observations, it is rated susceptible to sheath blight, straighthead, stem rot, kernel smut and false smut. Neptune is a new medium grain with a larger kernel than Jupiter and should be less susceptible to lodging. The sheath blight tolerance should be similar to Bengal, and the yield potential has been comparable to Jupi-ter. Neptune is re-ported to be resistant to bacterial panicle blight, but Dr. Rick Cartwright has had some mixed results in his disease nursery. This situation will continue to be evaluated further to strengthen the confidence in this rating.

Two new experimental lines are likely to be released this winter from the University of Arkansas. One is a blast-resistant line with yield potential comparable to Wells. The other is a high-yielding line (comparable to Wells) with a bold kernel size desired by some Middle Eastern markets. If the decision is made to release these varieties, foundation seed will be distributed to seed dealers to produce registered seed in 2009.

The RiceTec hybrids have made significant impacts on some farms. The hybrids, particularly Clearfield hybrids, have relatively low risk and are suitable on a wide range of soil and field conditions. The potentially higher yield, disease resistance and reduced nitrogen requirements make for a good combination on marginal to moderate fields with relatively high risk for significant disease problems. While I always advise against planting an entire farm in any variety or hybrid, this has become common among farmers growing hybrid rice. This increases risk, and when weather-related events, such as Hurricane Ike, or other environmental conditions occur at critical times, the amount of loss can be devastating.

The severe shattering of the hybrids observed during 2008 was the result of the three situations merging simultaneously. First, the hybrids are generally more susceptible to shattering than most conventional varieties. Secondly, because of the lateness of the crop, much of crop was ready or near ready to be harvested when the hurricane hit. The extremely high winds brought by the hurricane (> 100 mph) caused the grain to be “blown” off the head. While this is a significant event that may not occur again, if a grower has the entire crop planted to one hybrid, he potentially lost money on every acre of rice. If he had his crop spread among different varieties and hybrids, he reduced his risk and likely lost less money as a result of the hurricane.

The key to selecting the right varieties is to know your fields and your harvest capacity. Because of the shattering, the hybrids need to be harvested as soon as they mature. Other varieties can sit in the field longer, but all need to be harvested timely. Select varieties based on disease and yield history. Lastly, diversify. Just as your savings should be diversified, so should the rice varieties you plant.

2008 data summary

Dr. Nathan Buehring

Without a doubt, Clearfield rice has had a significant impact on rice production in the Southern rice-growing region. It has become the equivalent of “Roundup Ready” soybeans due to its ease of application. As a result, more rice acres are shifting towards Clearfield. This is something that I am not real enthused about due to potential resistance problems, but it is happening none the less.

In an effort to help rice producers make an informed decision on Clearfield cultivars in 2009, “Mississippi Variety Trial” data and information collected in 2008 are summarized below. Only 2008 data will discussed due to this being the only data available that has “heads up” comparisons of new and standard Clearfield cultivars (Clearfield XL 729, Clearfield XL 746, CL 131, CL 151, CL 161 and CL 171-AR). Ideally, we would like to have a couple of years of data to make a more informed decision. However, cultivars are quickly coming to the marketplace, and answers are needed on demand.

In 2008, Clearfield XL729 and Clearfield XP 746 showed a 20 to 22 percent yield advantage over CL 161. CL 151 resulted in an average yield 12 percent higher than CL 161. Yields with CL 131, CL 161, and CL 171-AR were within a few bushels of each other. Whole rice milling yields of CL 131, CL 161, and CL 171-AR were all above 65 percent, and CL 151 averaged 63.3 percent. Generally, CL 161 always resulted in slightly higher whole milling yields than CL 151. Clearfield XL 729 and Clearfield XP 746 whole milling yields averaged 59.3 to 59.5 percent. With hybrids, whole milling yields are typically lower than varieties.

Plant height for Clearfield XL 729 and Clearfield XP 746 averaged 42.5 inches tall. CL 151, CL 161 and CL 171-AR averaged 38 to 39 inches tall, and CL 131 averaged 34 inches tall. Clearfield XL 729, Clearfield XP 746, CL 151 and CL 161 are all very similar in terms of lodging potential. CL 131 and CL 171-AR have better straw strength over the other cultivars and would therefore offer more resistance to lodging.

Clearfield XL 729 and Clearfield XP 746 have very similar disease resistance packages (moderately susceptible to sheath blight, moderately resistant to blast, moderately resistant to straighthead and moderately susceptible to kernel smut). However, in some trials, hybrids that received a fungicide application to prevent/control sheath blight produced higher grain yields. Therefore, it should not be assumed that a fungicide will not be needed with a rice hybrid.

CL 131, CL 151, CL 161 and CL 171-AR are all very susceptible to sheath blight. As a result, these varieties will need at least one fungicide application for sheath blight control. These varieties rate differently in their susceptibility to blast and straighthead. CL 151 is very susceptible to both blast and straighthead. CL 131 is moderately susceptible to blast and very susceptible to straighthead. CL 161 is susceptible to blast and moderately susceptible to straighthead. CL 171 is both moderately susceptible to both blast and straighthead.

Now, with all this being said, let’s think about cultivar placement and planting strategies. On lighter soils, Clearfield XL 729, Clearfield XP 746, CL 161 and CL 171 would be better suited due to better resistance to blast and straighthead. CL 131 and CL 151 can be grown on lighter soils, but if straighthead is a potential problem, draining will be necessary. Clearfield XL 729, Clearfield XP 746, CL 131 and CL 151 would be well suited on heavier soil.

Since last year’s later-planted rice was dismal, most folks have said that they are going to plant until they are done or they can’t plant anymore. With that strategy in mind, we need to plant rice like soybeans, meaning plant the earliest maturing varieties first. As always, our recommendation is to plant hybrids first, so they can be harvested first.

I would then plant in the following order: CL 131, CL 151, CL 161 and then CL 171-AR. Using this strategy will allow you to start harvesting quickly and maximize on the quality of your crop.


Varieties for 2009

Dr. John Saichuk

Like last year, I’ll go out on a limb and speculate on 2009. I expect Cheniere to make up the majority of acres planted to conventional varieties followed by Cocodrie. Acreage devoted to Clearfield varieties will go over 50 percent, perhaps as high as 65 percent. Hybrids will continue to occupy between 15 percent and 20 percent of our acreage. CL131 and 151 are expected to replace CL161 and 171 as seed of these varieties increases in availability. As has been the trend for the last few years, long grain varieties will dominate.

Our recommended varieties are available in Rice Varieties and Management Tips 2009 in either hard copy at your local county agent’s office or on the Web at www.lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/rice/publications.

Recommended conventional varieties this year are Catahoula, Cheniere, Cocodrie, Cypress, Trenasse and Wells. Conventional Clearfield varieties recommended this year are CL131, CL151, CL161 and CL171. All of the above are long grain varieties. Bengal, Jupiter and Neptune are the recommended medium grain varieties. We do not have a Clearfield medium grain variety yet, but there should be one in a year or so.

Catahoula is an early semi-dwarf long grain variety, released by Dr. Linscombe’s breeding program this year, available as foundation seed. It is similar in plant type, maturity and plant height to Cocodrie. It is susceptible to sheath blight, resistant to blast and susceptible to straighthead. It has good seedling vigor and second crop potential. It also has good straw strength giving it fairly good resistance to lodging. We should get a good look at it under field conditions this year, and, if it performs as expected, will be a major variety in 2010.

Neptune is a new semi-dwarf medium grain variety with a very high yield potential and excellent milling quality. It has good seedling vigor and good resistance to lodging. The milled grains are similar to Calrose rice and larger than those of Jupiter. It is moderately susceptible to sheath blight and straighthead disorder but moderately resistant to blast. Second crop potential is very consistent, which is atypical of medium grain varieties. It was available as foundation seed last year, so it should be readily available this year.

Tips to consider

Dr. M.O. “MO” WAY
Rice Extension Agronomist

One of the most important decisions, if not the most important, you will make concerning your 2009 rice crop is selecting varieties for your specific situation. Note I mentioned varieties – not variety. I think you must not “put all your eggs in one basket” meaning plant more than one variety which helps spread risk. This also can help spread your harvest, which enables you to cut all your rice at the proper grain moisture level. We all know this is crucial to getting the best possible milling quality. Some other factors you should consider in selecting varieties are as follows:

1) Your familiarity with a variety. If a particular variety has performed well for you in the past, you may want to continue to plant this variety. You know the specific production practices for this variety and are comfortable with its performance.

2) The cost of seed. Seed costs continue to increase, especially for hybrid and herbicide-resistant cultivars. Generally, these varieties trend towards lower seeding rates, which means obtaining a good stand is crucial. If you opt to plant a relatively expensive variety, you must adopt the mind set that this variety will require a high level of management and probably more inputs, including your labor, time and money. If you plan to plant early, which I think is generally a very good idea, you absolutely need to prepare a good seed bed, calibrate your drill properly and consider applying fungicidal and insecticidal seed treatments. Dermacor X-100 seed treatment, which controls rice water weevil, fall armyworm and stalk borers, is available for use in 2009. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of obtaining a good, uniform stand of rice!

3) Consider ratoon cropping. The ratoon crop is becoming increasingly important, so select varieties with good ratoon crop potential. Some of our better farmers are producing ratoon yields equal to approximately 1/2 main crop yields! Again, planting early allows you to ratoon. Also, planting early can help you avoid hurricane-related problems late in the season. Peak hurricane season is from late August through September. Some of our farmers harvest the main crop as early as early to mid-July, which generally means their ratoon crop is past the critical flowering stage during peak hurricane season. However, shattering and lodging can be problematic for the ratoon crop if exposed to strong winds.

4) Research varietal performance. Visit with neighbors, seed dealers, county Extension agents and attend winter meetings to find out information about older and newer varieties. Don’t be bashful. Call, email or visit your nearest rice research station and talk to the breeders, specialists and/or other scientists to obtain their input. Remember, we work for you! Educating yourself is the best way to make informed decisions regarding varietal selection as well as other rice production practices.

I wish you a very successful, productive 2009 growing season. Please contact me (409-658-7394 or moway@aesrg.tamu.edu) anytime to share your concerns and successes in 2009!

Johnson’s legacy


Although Dr. Carl Johnson, Plant Breeder at the California Rice Experiment Station, retired in 2008, his varieties M-205, M-206 and M-208 are his legacy to the California rice industry. In the past three years, M-205 and M-206 have rapidly gained in popularity – and for good reason.

M-206, in particular, has provided a measure of stability recovering from adverse weather or other growing conditions where M-202 and its predecessors could not. For example, in the early statewide yield tests averaged over five years from 2004 to 2008 and several locations, yields from M-205 and M-206 were nearly 800 lbs/ac more than M-202. Both, as reported last year in this column, have remarkable stability in head rice as harvest moisture levels drop. This characteristic has been worth approximately two points in head rice yield for the industry.

Because of this characteristic, one of the great advantages has been the flexibility they provide at harvest.

Whereas M-202 and its earlier Calrose cousins begin to lose head rice when grain moisture drops below 20 to 22 percent, M-206 and M-205 provide good head rice at considerably lower grain moisture levels.

Therefore, fields that were likely harvested at drier grain moisture levels because of the “harvest crunch” still maintained better head rice.

While we would not recommend harvesting these two varieties below 18 percent grain moisture, the penalty in loss of head rice will be less than for M-202. This attribute provides not only more flexibility at harvest but also the potential for lower drying costs.

With regard to the nuances of these varieties, M-205 does better in the warmer areas of the state whereas M-206 seems to hold up in most all environments.

As for the third variety M-208, it was developed particularly for resistance to rice blast disease. For those in areas of the Sacramento Valley who are worried about blast, M-208 will provide a measure of insurance against this disease. The issue is that blast has been a relatively minor problem in California, and it is difficult to predict in advance whether the upcoming season will be conducive to this disease. Nonetheless, M-208 is an “insurance policy” against blast.

Missouri yield recap


In 2008, rice varieties performed in similar fashion as they have in past years. Hurricane Ike did alter the final yield results, but the weather was actually a blessing for the other component of rice production – quality. Missouri rice producers have indicated that the yields for rice harvested were about average (150 bu/acre) for their farms. This was down about 15 to 20 bu/acre when compared to the 2007 record yields and was true for the rice yield trials conducted in 2008. Our averages across four locations were approximately 155 bu/acre. However, we did have some rice that yielded as high as 225 bu/acre.

For long grain varieties across four yield trial locations, Cybonnet was the top-yielding line at 165 bu/acre followed by Trenasse, Cocodrie and CL151. On silt loam soil, Cybonnet was the top- yielding line at 165 bu/acre followed by RiceTec XL723, CL131 and CL151. On gumbo soil, Trenasse yielded 225 bu/acre, followed by Cheniere, Cocodrie and Francis. Neptune was the top-yielding line for medium grain types across all locations, on silt loam and gumbo soils with 174 bu/acre, 152 bu/acre and 240 bu/acre, respectively. Jupiter was not significantly different from Neptune on any of these soil types.

For complete results on these variety trials and more, make plans to attend the 2008 Missouri Rice Research Conference to be held Feb. 18th in Dexter, Mo.