If you’re driving down the turnrow at Tanner Seed Farms, which has been in business for many years in Bernie, Mo., you may think you’re seeing double. Not so. What you are seeing on 400 acres of the 4,000-acre operation is an ultra-low seed rate twin-row system used for rice seed stock increase.
Zack Tanner, who has been in partnership with his wife Becky since 1995, says he has planted ultra-low seed rates in the past, but for the last couple of years, he has used a Monosem planter adapted to plant rice in twin rows. Tanner also uses the machine to plant popcorn and soybeans on beds.
All of the crops on the farm are grown for seed.
“We are strictly using the twin-row system on new rice varieties where there is a very limited quantity of seed,” he explains. “The twin rows are approximately 8 and 1/2 inches apart on 36-inch centers. We usually plant from five to eight pounds per acre, depending on which field we are in along with other factors.
“Generally speaking, if I plant one pound of seed, I like to see at least 1,200 pounds of gain,” Tanner adds. “Also, with very new varieties, you have to ‘clean them up,’ because there will be off-types out there. By planting thin, I have fewer off-types per acre to remove and can stretch the limited seed over more acres.”
Maximize tillering, increase test weight
In 2009, Tanner planted CL111, CL142-AR and CL181-AR in twin rows. One of the advantages of the twin-row system is that it spaces the seeds apart, which allows maximum tillering out of each seed. It also provides a wide alley for roguers to use when removing rice off-types. Yet another benefit is that the plants get direct sunlight and air movement among them, which greatly reduces disease and increases the test weight.
Tanner’s twin-row rice is watered in paddies just like conventional rice, but he doesn’t hold a permanent flood until early boot.
“Prior to that stage, we just flush flood to promote tillering and nitrogen incorporation instead of maintaining a deep flood,” he says.
The ideal dates for planting rice in his area are April 1 to April 12, according to the Missouri farmer. However, in 2009, wet weather pushed the dates back to April 23 through the 29. The fertilizer program is based on soil tests done every other year.
“We use a pre-plant fertilizer, and I have realized a great deal of benefit from applying 100 pounds of ammonium sulfate at two- to three-leaf,” Tanner says. “At the four- to five-leaf stage, we put out 200 to 220 pounds of urea (90 to 100 units of nitrogen). Seven days prior to green ring, we load up the plant with another 100 pounds of urea, followed by 50 to 100 pounds of urea two weeks later.”
Pest control strategies
Tanner’s insecticide program includes using the seed-applied insecticide/fungicide CruiserMAXX Rice and Karate – a pyrethroid – for stink bugs at heading. His herbicide program is by prescription for each and every field.
“When planting the ultra-low seed rates, we don’t use Command for fear of stand thinning,” Tanner says. “If we are planting a Clearfield variety, we apply Clearpath pre-emergence. As far as fungicide, since we have good light and air penetration into the canopy, we did not have to make applications for sheath blight. However, we did apply a preventative rate of Quilt for late sheath blight and early blast.”
Benefits typically outweigh challenges
As for challenges Tanner faced with the twin-row system, the biggest one in 2009 was a wet, cool spring followed by rain and more rain. The second challenge that he has to watch out for every year is glyphosate drift from neighboring crops.
Clearfield rice lineup
announced at Missouri field day
“Even a light rate of glyphosate can result in damage and yield loss,” Tanner says. “It may not be apparent to the eye, but you can definitely see it when the combine hits the field.”
The good news was the two-week window without rain that opened in September, allowing Tanner to harvest his rice without much delay. Over the entire farm, the rice yielded 190 bu/A dry, and the percent germination has been in the 90s so far. On some fields, he made 249 bu/A with CL151 planted at 55 lb/A.
“The twin-row system on 36-inch centers definitely has a place on our farm to rapidly increase new varieties because we are able to get such a large increase with very little seed,” Tanner says. “We do plan to use this system again in 2010 where we plant new varieties to help us provide better seed stock for seed growers.”
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.