Smallflower Umbrella Sedge on zero-grade
At our annual Missouri Rice Producers
Conference in February, we
had topics on resistant weeds, rice
weed control recommendations for
flood, furrow and pivot rice. Fertilizer recommendations, soil
testing and the economic application of nitrogen and other
fertilizers to rice were presented. Variety selection, special
rice, insects, diseases, marketing, water issues, the aquifer
and future water laws for southeast Missouri were discussed.
Little did we know that all of these topics would
come into play in 2012 due to extreme warm and dry weather.
However, we mostly missed the mark in our discussions
because they were set for “normal” conditions. We
confirmed what we already knew: Rice, like most crops,
yield very well under severe drought or desert conditions
when they have an effective watering system.
We expected Missouri rice acres to be down a bit but, due
to warm dry conditions early, it was easy to work ground and plant
fast. So, with 177,000 acres planted for a 38 percent increase from
2011 and with a higher yield, Missouri’s production was up 43 percent
to 11.9 million cwt. We had less water-seeded than in past years.
We worked, leveled and drilled more zero-graded land this year.
Early preemergent weed control was better than normal because of
more timely flushings, not for weeds but to germinate rice. This,
along with good, uniform stands of rice, made post weed control seem easier than normal. Smallflower Umbrella Sedge is becoming
more problematic on zero-grade water-seeded rice.
Ground and air fertilizer applications seemed to have been more
timely with better results than years past. As expected with bright sunshine,
hot and dry weather diseases were down, and, for the most
part, insects were not a serious problem.
Although it was very costly to pump every day, folks on silt or clay
soils with good wells and equipment made higher yields than in wet years. We learned that in a full season drought, rice requires no more
water than corn. We also confirmed that we can grow 180 bushels of
rice on furrow and under pivot on very sandy soils under severe
drought conditions when the water is delivered properly.
According to Dr. Michael Aide, professor at Southeast Missouri
State University, our long-term water supply for the Bootheel is in
excellent shape. The aquifer for SEMO replenishes rapidly.
Chemical spray drift was here again in 2012, but this time it was rice
farmers catching the drift instead of causing it. Newpath sprayed on
conventional rice happened a couple of times, but the worst problem
was Ignite drift onto rice fields. Many growers were trying to kill resistant
pigweeds on their turn rows, and, in doing so, they raised their
booms too high or got too close to their neighbor’s rice fields. I think
our commercial ground and air applicators are doing much better at
In summary, we had a very abnormal season, but Missouri growers
ended the 2012 season with a very good rice crop yieldwise. The
quality may be off a bit and our pumping cost was doubled, but
otherwise it was normal.
Rice yields improve
Mississippi planted approximately
126,000 acres of rice, which is about
100,000 acres lower than the five-year average.
Fewer rice acres in 2012 is attributed
to lower rice yields in previous years, lower rice prices and higher
prices for other crops such as soybeans and corn.
With the fewer acres in 2012 and dry planting conditions at
the end of March, planting progress was able to move along at a
record pace. Mississippi had 60 percent of the rice crop planted by
April 15, 2012, and 95 percent planted by April 29, 2012.
Two Clearfield varieties and two Clearfield hybrids accounted
for approximately 65 percent of the total rice acreage. Clearfield
XL745 and Clearfield XL729 were planted on 32 and 11 percent
of the acreage respectively, while CL151 and CL111 each were
planted on 11 percent of the acreage respectively. Cocodrie continued
to be a favorite among conventional varieties and accounted
for 11 percent of the acreage, whereas the conventional hybrids
XL723 and XL753 were planted to eight and six percent of the acreage. Rex, the newly released rice variety, was planted on
about six percent of the acreage. The remaining four percent was
planted primarily to CL152, Sabine, Hidalgo, XP744 and
Adequate rainfall was received in the early part of the growing
season. This is not only advantageous for crop growth and development
early on, but it also helps keep preemergence herbicides
active in the soil and keeps weeds actively growing for optimum
herbicide performance. Some of the later planted rice was flushed
due to drier conditions becoming dominant later in the season.
With most of the summer becoming dry with low humidity, disease
pressure was kept at a manageable level. Insect pressure
was also relatively light throughout the growing season. With
most of the rice planted receiving an insecticide seed treatment, rice
water weevils have become less of a problem in rice. Rice stinkbug
numbers were lower than in 2011; however, some of the acres did
receive an insecticide application for rice stinkbug control.
The rice harvest season began the last couple of days in July.
Early planting, coupled with favorable growing conditions in
2012, enabled rice producers to harvest earlier than normal. More
than 80 percent of Mississippi’s rice crop was harvested by Sept.
16, which is about 30 percent above the five-year average. On
average, rice yields were improved over the last two years. Mississippi
rice yields for 2012 are currently estimated at 158 bu/A –
two bushels per acre below the state record set in 2007.
In looking over December Specialists Speaking
articles from the previous few years, I discovered
a paragraph written in 2009 that could
have been used to describe 2012. In 2009, the
best planting date for rice in south Louisiana
was between March 1 and March 15. And, just as in 2009, most
farmers did not want to plant prior to March 8 because that would disqualify
them for the re-plant provisions of crop insurance. Then it started
raining just enough to stop farmers from dry seeding, especially
drill seeding. Eventually, some flooded their fields and water-seeded
them. Records from our AgCenter surveys show 45 percent waterseeded
acres in 2009, 32 percent and 33 percent in 2010 and 2011
respectively, and 44 percent in 2012.
2012 may be remembered as a year of opportunity for plant pathologists.
We started the year with the knowledge that a race or biotype
of Rhizoctonia solani, the fungus that causes sheath blight,
which is resistant to the strobilurin fungicides, had been confirmed.
LSU AgCenter pathologists working with BASF were able to obtain
a Section 18 Emergency Use label for Sercadis fungicide in time for
the use season. Because Sercadis is derived from different fungicide
chemistry, the resistant fungus could be managed. Some growers
complained that it did not work as well as Quadris or Gem, the strobilurin
fungicides that had been so effective to that point. This was
already well documented through research, so it was not a surprise.
However, some control is a lot better than none. There may be a few
label changes for the 2013 season to improve its efficacy.
In May, we got our next disease surprise when leaf blast was
reported in commercial fields of southwest Louisiana and on the
Rice Research Station in Crowley. The first field I saw with the
problem was a seed rice field planted to CL261. Within a few days, we were getting calls of the disease in everything from Bengal to
Wells on the station and most often CL151 in grower fields. It was
documented in CL111, CL151, CL152, CL162, CL181, CL261,
Bengal, Caffey, Cypress, Jupiter, Rex, Wells and probably some I
missed. The difference in response to the disease gave plant pathologist
Dr. Don Groth the opportunity of a lifetime to rate commercial
varieties and experimental lines for their susceptibility. Plant breeders
Dr. Steve Linscombe and Dr. Xueyan Sha took advantage of the
situation to discard susceptible lines from their programs. Dr. Linscombe
said it was the worst blast he had seen in his career; I agree.
The first question asked of us was, “Why was blast so bad this
year?” Most researchers believe the problem started with the very mild
winter of 2011-12. We had no real killing freeze and few light freezes.
As a consequence, rice plants survived in crawfish ponds and neglected
rice fields harvested in 2011. When spring arrived, there were
fields of rice that served as sources of inoculum. The fungus grew and
reproduced much earlier than in most years. By the time the crop
was planted, the pathogen was already well established and waiting
for more host plants. Heavy inoculum, a large acreage of susceptible
varieties and the right weather set up the epidemic.
The critical nature of fungicide application timing and fungicide
selection were other important lessons learned in 2012. This was
especially true where growers used Sercadis to combat resistant
sheath blight and had to add in a strobilurin for blast control. Where
the smuts and/or Cercospora were of concern, a third ingredient,
propiconazole, had to be added to the mix. This was awfully expensive
at a time when prices were not very encouraging. Trying to
apply fungicide one time proved that an application at the right time
for sheath blight was too early for blast, or, if it was applied correctly
to manage blast, it was too late for sheath blight. Unless two or more
applications are made, there will always be some compromise in
disease control because the fungi attack at different times.
At least it was a fairly light year in terms of insect pressure, and,
according to Dr. Eric Webster, one of the best years for weed control.
Ups and downs
This past season was a year of ups and downs for Arkansas rice
farmers. The rice crop was planted at a record pace, with over 50
percent of rice in the ground by April 1. Temperatures and moisture
were good during the early part of the season, but unfortunately kept
climbing, resulting in extremely high temperatures during late June
and throughout July. Most were able to manage the heat with proper
water management and were encouraged as temperatures declined
into August. Harvest began very successfully in late July and August
with high yields and solid milling quality. Unfortunately, late August
and September brought rain and wind, resulting in harvest delays, the
repeated wetting and drying of harvest-ready rice and many acres
of downed rice. While most yields remained high, quality began a
rapid decline due to adverse conditions resulting from Hurricane
Isaac and subsequent thunderstorms.
Reports of large differences in milling quality between hybrids
and conventional varieties have been somewhat exaggerated. No
cultivar was immune to the variation in milling caused by erratic
environmental conditions. On average, no more than a few points
separated hybrids and conventionals for head rice yield. While high
nighttime air temperatures during critical growth stages certainly
played a role in setting the maximum milling quality we could expect,
adverse weather conditions late in the season brought us down from expectations set during early harvest. The preservation of milling
quality in both hybrids and conventionals is dependent upon timely
harvest. Harvesting rice too early (high moisture, >24 percent) or
too late (low moisture, <16 percent) often results in a significant loss
of milling quality.
Insect and disease pressure across the state was unusually low this
season. However, hot and dry conditions are typically not conducive
to disease pressure, and insect populations become extremely unpredictable
during unusual years such as this one.
Clearfield crop acreage has grown each year
since its introduction but declined slightly in 2012. Newpath carryover
was an issue of increased concern this year. Unexpected carryover was
observed in fields where appropriate herbicide rates and rotation
interval were followed. Newpath drift onto non-Clearfield cultivars
was also a problem. According to Dr. Bob Scott, Extension weed
scientist, 2012 “has been an exceptional year for crop injury.”
I am pleased to report that a new state record average yield of 162
bu/A was achieved in 2012. Unfortunately, problems with grain
quality, herbicide carryover/drift, sensationalized reports concerning
arsenic in rice and unfortunate weather conditions at harvest
dampened what could have been a truly banner year for Arkansas rice
production. May we live in less interesting times in 2013.
Overall, the 2012 California rice-growing season was another one
of those that makes you wonder how we define what a “normal”
season is. The only thing consistent about growing conditions in the
last several years has been the inconsistency.
This inconsistency challenges and frustrates farmers when making
management decisions. In 2012, California rice planting was delayed
by a mild, wet spring with significant showers in the latter part of
March and the first half of April that delayed ground preparation.
Much of our rice was planted in the latter half of May with some
plantings dragging into June.
Fairly warm May temperatures resulted in good stand establishment,
while temperatures during the remainder of the season were reminiscent
of a roller coaster ride; alternating between stretches of significantly
higher and significantly lower than average temperatures.
Of particular interest was a 10-day period in early-to-mid August
when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F and even approached
110 degrees F on a couple of occasions.
Very early planted rice that was flowering during this period may
have experienced significant heat induced blanking associated with
poor pollination. On a positive note, nighttime temperatures stayed
warm enough during the sensitive pollen meiosis stage to prevent
cold temperature blanking issues similar to those we encountered
To compound the issues associated with late-planted rice and temperature
extremes, harvest appeared to be delayed or stretched out for many growers.
In many cases, grain moisture contents reached about 25 percent
where they stalled, and were then followed by a very leisurely decrease
to harvestable moisture content. These conditions led to delayed harvests
confounded by intermittent rains, some locally heavy, that led
to more delays and may result in some lower quality rice once
appraisals are complete.
As of the first week of November, between
five to 10 percent of the California rice crop
was still to be harvested. The Oct. 1 USDA NASS projections for California
rice indicated an estimated 563,000 acres of rice harvested with
an estimated statewide yield of 8,450 lbs/A for a 100 lbs/A increase
Based upon observations and discussions with growers, the NASS
estimates seem a bit high, and I expect the final statewide yield to be
closer to 8,000 lbs/A with good milling quality for the majority of
What is normal?
Overall, the 2012 California rice-growing season was another one of those that makes you wonder how we define what a “normal” season is. The only thing consistent about growing conditions in the last several years has been the inconsistency.
This inconsistency challenges and frustrates farmers when making management decisions. In 2012, California rice planting was delayed by a mild, wet spring with significant showers in the latter part of March and the first half of April that delayed ground preparation. Much of our rice was planted in the latter half of May with some plantings dragging into June.
Fairly warm May temperatures resulted in good stand establishment, while temperatures during the remainder of the season were reminiscent of a roller coaster ride; alternating between stretches of significantly higher and significantly lower than average temperatures. Of particular interest was a 10-day period in early-to-mid August when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F and even approached 110 degrees F on a couple of occasions.
Very early planted rice that was flowering during this period may have experienced significant heat induced blanking associated with poor pollination. On a positive note, nighttime temperatures stayed warm enough during the sensitive pollen meiosis stage to prevent cold temperature blanking issues similar to those we encountered
To compound the issues associated with late-planted rice and temperature extremes, harvest appeared to be delayed or stretched out for many growers.
In many cases, grain moisture contents reached about 25 percent where they stalled, and were then followed by a very leisurely decrease to harvestable moisture content. These conditions led to delayed harvests confounded by intermittent rains, some locally heavy, that led to more delays and may result in some lower quality rice once appraisals are complete.
As of the first week of November, between five to 10 percent of the California rice crop was still to be harvested. The Oct. 1 USDA NASS projections for California rice indicated an estimated 563,000 acres of rice harvested with an estimated statewide yield of 8,450
lbs/A for a 100 lbs/A increase over 2011.
Based upon observations and discussions with growers, the NASS estimates seem a bit high, and I expect the final statewide yield to be closer to 8,000 lbs/A with good milling quality for the majority of California rice.
Exceptional yields and quality in 2012
The main topic of Texas rice production in 2012 is WATER. As
you probably know, Texas rice acreage in 2012 was about 50,000 less
than in 2011, which was due to the Lower Colorado River Authority’s
decision to not release water for agricultural purposes. The
drought during 2011 lowered reservoir water levels below the threshold
for release to farmers who use surface water from the Colorado
River. So far, the fall of 2012 has been very dry, which is not good.
We need fall and winter precipitation to fill the lakes northwest of
Austin to allow release of water for our rice crop in 2013. The counties
affected – Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda – are located in the
heart of Texas rice production south and west of Houston.
On a more positive note, in general, 2012 rice yields and quality in
Texas are exceptional. However, I have heard of higher than expected
levels of peck. Based on the Texas Rice Crop Survey, main crop
yields averaged over 7,500 lbs/A, which is much better than last
year. Complete ratoon crop yield data are not yet available. Some crop
consultants are reporting combined main and ratoon crop yields
around 100 barrels per acre, which is equivalent to about 16,000
lbs/A wet weight! These exceptionally high yields are being produced
by hybrid rice varieties.
Blast was a potential problem in 2012. This disease was first diagnosed
by Dr. Shane Zhou in fields of CL261 near Nome, Texas, in Jefferson
County. Fortunately, blast did not reach epidemic proportions
in Texas, but we need to be alert for this disease in 2013. I visited with
Dr. Johnny Saichuk recently, and he told me blast was severe in
Louisiana in 2012.
Rice water weevil populations were above normal in 2012, but
we have excellent pest management tools to control these root-feeding
pests. We have three seed treatments – CruiserMaxx Rice, Dermacor
X-100 and NipsIt INSIDE – to control rice water weevil in 2013. In 2012, NipsIt INSIDE was labeled
through an Experimental Use Permit, which
limited use to no more than 10,000 acres of
rice in Texas. However, in 2013, NipsIt
INSIDE will have no acreage limitation under a full federal Section
3 registration. The active ingredient in NipsIt INSIDE is clothianidin,
which has been implicated in honeybee kills in soybean and corn
fields in the Midwest. So, after
registering NipsIt INSIDE and Belay, which also contains clothianidin
as the active ingredient on rice, USEPA then had to defend
Thanks to Steve Hensley with USA Rice Federation for alerting rice
entomologists about this situation. I wrote a letter in support of the rice
registration, and I think my colleagues in other Southern rice-producing
states did the same. I thank USEPA, in particular Lois Rossi
and Meredith Laws, for supporting a rice registration. They and their
staff evaluated the data and arrived at a rational, science-based decision
to support registration.
We must be careful when we apply chemicals to our rice. Remember,
READ and FOLLOW the LABEL INFORMATION and
INSTRUCTIONS! I can’t stress this enough. Labels are legal documents
and must be adhered to strictly. The U.S. rice industry has
had direct, painful experiences when chemicals were applied not in
accordance with label instructions. We have an array of excellent
pest management tools that we do not want to lose.
I mentioned Belay in the above discussion, and I want to say a few
more words about this insecticide. Belay also has a full federal Section
3 label for use in 2013 in the Southern rice-producing states.
Belay is applied as a spray from before to about 10 days after flood.
Control is aimed at rice water weevil and seedling pests of rice, such
as aphids and thrips.
Another issue for Texas rice in 2012, as well as other rice-producing
states, was arsenic. I’m not going to talk about this now
because I am not very familiar with this issue, but I do know the
media put out some information that was very preliminary and incomplete.
I plan to do some more homework on arsenic and rice, but in the
meantime, I am sure some of my colleagues have a much better grasp
of this topic, so I will defer to them.
Stalk borers were problematic in Texas in 2012, but again, we
have some good pest management tools for these pests. Currently, my
project is involved in trying to develop treatment thresholds for stalk
borers. The Mexican rice borer, which was introduced into Texas
from Mexico in the 1980s, continues to spread north and west. In
2012, moths were collected in new locations in Louisiana.
Also, I regret losing Dr. Natalie Hummel, who was my Extension
counterpart with the LSU AgCenter. Natalie did a lot of work with
stalk borers and other pests of Louisiana rice and is now working in North Carolina employed by an agrichemical company – best of luck
to Natalie, and I hope LSU AgCenter hires her replacement soon!
Finally, the photo I selected for this article is of the Beaumont
Center display at the Texas Rice Festival held in Winnie during the
first week of October. This festival celebrates the rice harvest and is
well-attended and maintains a family atmosphere. Thanks to Mike
Doguet, US Rice Producers Association and Uncle Ben’s for providing
give-a-ways and rice industry information.