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
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