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What are we going to plant in 2013?

One of the most frequently asked questions this fall has been, “What are we going to plant next year?” It is also one of the most uncommon questions I have been asked over the years in this position. Most of the time, the variety selection process in rice is fairly simple because, unlike soybeans, there are fewer recommended varieties from which to choose. In recent years, we have the introduction of Clearfield lines and hybrids, but, even with those additions, the number is limited.

In the 2013 edition of Rice Varieties and Management Tips, the LSU AgCenter lists four recommended long-grain varieties, three medium grain varieties and six Clearfield varieties. There are descriptions of six hybrid varieties, too. It appears there are 19 varieties, but, in reality, there are fewer. Medium grain acreage made up about six percent of the total acreage in 2012 in Louisiana. Within the three medium grain varieties, only two have been approved by Kellogg’s, further restricting choices.

Within the conventional long-grain group is Cocodrie – a variety widely grown at one time and on its way out based on acreage surveys. Within the Clearfield group is a medium grain variety and two older long-grain varieties currently grown on limited acreage. Because the LSU AgCenter has not been able to test the hybrid varieties for the past few years, I cannot provide much information about them.

The special purpose varieties such as Della, Della-2, Jazzman, Jazzman-2, Milagro Filipino and Toro-2 should only be grown under contract. There are a few others that fall into that same category, mostly grown in other states.

So, what do we plant next year? Among the conventional long-grain varieties, I like Cheniere, Catahoula and Mermentau. Last year was a good year for Cheniere. In two verification fields, it showed better tolerance to blast than many other varieties.

Catahoula has not gained much acceptance, but I think it is worth looking at because it stands well, has excellent grain quality and has a good disease package. It just has not yielded as well as had been hoped. I have had no experience with the new variety Mermentau, but would not hesitate to try it.

From the Clearfield list of pure line varieties, I like CL111 and CL152 the best. A few years ago, most were about to abandon CL111. However, even though it is rated moderately susceptible to blast, its performance under the tremendous blast pressure of 2012 made it one of the most successful varieties last summer.

What I saw of CL152 in our verification program was good. It does not yield as well as CL151, but it performed well under intense blast pressure, has very good grain quality and good second crop potential. Despite the yield potential of CL151, its reputation for chalkiness and susceptibility to blast may have rung its death knell. I would not abandon it yet, but would limit my acreage planted to it.

I still like the grain quality of Cypress and CL161. However, I would put them in the same class as special purpose varieties and grow them under contract to compensate for their lower yield potential. Because of the lower demand for medium grain varieties, I would explore the market before planting them.

The hybrids have their place as well. Their yield potential and disease package are well documented. In some instances, grain quality has been in question.


3 Newest cultivars

With 2012 now in the books, plans for the 2013 growing season are in front of us. As with every crop, it begins with the seed. Cultivar selection and placement is a critical component for laying a good foundation for a good rice crop.

The best source for unbiased information on rice cultivar performance is from your state’s Official Variety Trials. Mississippi’s 2012 Rice Variety Trial Booklet can be found on the Web at http://msucares.com/pubs/infobulletins/ib0472.pdf, or you can contact your county Extension office. This booklet contains the latest yield information on particular cultivars and information on disease ratings and nitrogen rates for selected cultivars.

Instead of talking about all of the cultivars that have been available for several years, I want to focus on three of the newest cultivars that are available (Rex, CL152 and XL753) in this article.

Rex is a conventional long-grain semi-dwarf variety release from Mississippi State University. Rough rice yields with this variety have been comparable to or above Cocodrie. Also, Rex has shown to be a more stable variety in terms of yield across many different environments, years and locations when compared to Cocodrie. Whole grain milling yields with Rex have been slightly lower than Cocodrie. Rex is an early maturating variety with a maturity level comparable to Cocodrie. Rex has great standability in the field, and we have seen no issues with lodging problems in plots or in production fields. Rex is susceptible to sheath blight, very susceptible to blast and moderately resistant to straighthead.

CL152 is a long-grain semi-dwarf Clearfield variety released from LSU AgCenter and marketed by Horizon Ag. Rough rice yields with this variety have been slightly lower than CL111 and CL151. Whole grain milling yields with CL152 have been slightly better than CL111 and CL151. CL152 is similar in height to CL111 and CL151, but is moderately resistant to lodging. CL152 is rated susceptible to sheath blight, moderately susceptible to blast and moderately resistant to straighthead.

XL753 is a conventional long-grain hybrid released from RiceTec. This hybrid has shown three to 10 percent yield advantage over XL723. Whole grain milling yields have been lower with XL753 than other commercial cultivars. To achieve the highest quality rice with any of the commercially available hybrids, try to begin harvesting at 18 to 20 percent.

XL753 is moderately susceptible to sheath blight, moderately resistant to blast and straighthead. Height, maturity and harvestability are similar to XL723.


Select success

In order to select the rice cultivar that will provide the best chance for success in your particular growing environment, it is important to look at as much information as possible. Do not rely on information from a single year to dictate your cultivar selection, especially a year like 2012. It was a good year. It was a bad year. A new state record yield of 163 bu/A was achieved in 2012, which certainly saw some cultivars exceed expectations. Complaints on milling quality arose after late thunderstorms battered the state. It would be unwise to expect similar results in 2013, but then again, stranger things have happened.

Diversity in your rice cultivar selection could have the greatest impact on ensuring continued success year after year. It is wise to rotate and balance Clearfield and non-Clearfield varieties for the sake of preserving both conventional herbicide technology and Clearfield technology. Planting continuous Clearfield rice is not good stewardship of the technology and will eventually lead to problems with this technology, sooner rather than later.

CL151 and CL152 are similar varieties that both have good yield potential and similar disease packages, but CL152 has improved stalk strength and chalk compared to CL151. CL XL729 is an older technology that continues to perform very well, while CL XL745 has begun to dominate the Clearfield hybrid market.

RiceTec will market two hybrids in their identity preservation program for 2013 – CL XP4534 and XP4523. These hybrids performed very well in the 2012 variety performance trials, where they consistently produced high yields across multiple locations.

The most consistent conventional varieties over the past few years have been RoyJ, Taggart and Francis. In 2012, RoyJ produced grain yields with the consistency most commonly seen from hybrids. In addition, this variety has very good stalk strength and typically will not lodge even under extreme conditions. Taggart has been another consistent performer that has the added benefit of straighthead resistance. XL753 has been outstanding in the variety performance trials over the past two years, performing more consistently than other non-Clearfield hybrids.

Diversity is also extremely important as it relates to the maturity of the cultivars you select to grow in 2013. Some of the problems with rice quality in recent years can, in many instances, be explained not only by high nighttime air temperatures during critical growth stages, but also by harvest moisture content. Growers, weather permitting, have a large degree of control over harvest moisture content by choosing when to harvest. It is unwise to plant your entire farm to similar cultivars of similar maturity.

If all of your rice is planted inside of a week, then it will mature at the same time. When this happens, you need to harvest your entire acreage at once, but since this is not feasible, rice continues to dry and lose quality, which is further reduced if rainfall and heavy dew cause repeated rewetting and drying. If you desire to plant all of your rice at once, plant a balance of early maturing cultivars such as CL111 or CL XL745 followed by later maturing cultivars such as RoyJ or Taggart, which will spread your harvest window out by 10 days.

In summary, it would be best to either deliberately spread your planting window across several weeks or select cultivars that have considerable differences in maturity. Each of these options will provide you with the ability to harvest your rice crop in a timely manner and at the best harvest moisture content to preserve quality.

Remember the keys to selecting success in 2013: Diversify your cultivar selection, rotate crops and technologies and diversify crop planting and harvest times.

For detailed information on university testing of rice cultivars, please visit http://www.arkansasvarietytesting.com/.


Select for main and ratoon crop yield

As you well know, choosing a variety for your operation is probably the most important management decision you make. I have often heard my scientific colleagues say rice yield and quality are 50 percent determined by genetics and 50 percent determined by management practices (this is why the rice breeders get a large chunk of farmers’ check-off funds, which is only appropriate!). Rice breeders are the quarterbacks and running backs while entomologists are the pulling guards and nose tackles of our scientific teams. Speaking of quarterbacks, how about the Ags’ “Johnny Football?” Not too shabby for a freshman!

Anyway, for Texas, rice farmers want a variety with both excellent main and ratoon crop yield and quality potential. Recently, I participated in a meeting with selected Texas rice farmers and crop consultants who emphasized the importance of developing varieties with early season cold-hardiness because our Texas rice farmers are planting earlier to increase the chance of producing two crops with outstanding yields. Early planting can also avoid extremely hot weather during main crop flowering, which reduces the likelihood of panicle blight incidence.

In general, the longer your crop is in the field, the more bad things can happen to it. For instance, late plantings are often associated with more rice stink bug, blackbird and stalk borer pressure. Late main crop harvests are more likely to coincide with the hurricane season leading to potentially more lodging. Some of our Texas rice farmers are now planting in late February and early March with main crop harvesting around the 4th of July and ratoon crop harvesting in September and October. In 2012, at least one Texas rice farmer produced 100 barrels per acre on two crops – planting was in late February/ early March. Also, I don’t know about you, but I do believe our climate is changing, which may favor earlier plantings in the future.

Another important consideration is seed cost. We know the hybrids have excellent yield potential, but does the seed cost justify the high yields? Farmers must make this decision based on their own experiences. Hybrid seeding rates are very low, so if you plan on planting a hybrid early, be aware that stand problems may ensue. To me, this means you definitely want to apply an insecticidal seed treatment.

Both CruiserMaxx Rice and NipsIt INSIDE control seedling pests with piercing-sucking mouthparts like chinch bug, aphids and thrips. In addition, CruiserMaxx Rice has three fungicides for seedling disease control. Dermacor X-100 seed treatment controls fall armyworm, stalk borers and flies such as South American rice miner. All three of these seed treatments control rice water weevil. At the above meeting, all of the crop consultants had an insecticidal treatment applied to all their farmers’ planted rice seed.

I talked with our rice breeder, Dr. Dante Tabien, recently. Dante reported that seed from his two new varieties, Antonio and Colorado, will be planted to produce certified seed in 2013. Thus, these varieties will be available for commercial planting in 2014. For newly released varieties, do not “put all your eggs in one basket.” In other words, don’t plant all your acreage to a variety you have never grown before – plant most of your acreage to varieties in which you have confidence and experience.

I recently attended the 24th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference, which is a great meeting to find out about the latest research and Extension programs/results for many crops produced in Texas. I encourage you to attend this conference, which is usually held near Texas A&M University during the first week of December. If you want more info on this meeting, contact me at (409) 658-2186 or moway@aesrg.tamu.edu.

While at the meeting, I met a fine young man, Brett Helms, who currently works for a fertilizer company near Houston. Brett is an imposing figure, but is very friendly, smart, courteous and engaging. It so happens that Brett played starting center on one of LSU’s national championship football teams a few years ago. Brett also got a degree in Business from LSU. So student and athlete do not have to be mutually exclusive! I think Nick Saban was coaching at the time. Also, Brett played a few seasons with the Houston Texans.

Brett’s last name may be familiar to some of you because his Dad is Dr. Ronnie Helms, who is a rice crop consultant in Arkansas. All I can say is that although Ronnie done good, maybe I should give the credit to Brett’s mom! I sometimes complain about the younger generation, but we old timers are in good hands if Brett is any indication of today’s youth.


Newer varieties, lower HMC

The 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 the most important criterion for variety selection, although for certain varieties market quality outweighs yield.

Variety selection should also consider the maturity class that best fits a particular farming operation or climatic zone. 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 maturity in the warmer areas of the state. The length of the vegetative stage (i.e. days from planting to panicle differentiation) is similar among the California public varieties. Maturity classes differ in the time required to heading.

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 (e.g. M-105), early (e.g. M- 205) and late maturing (e.g. M-401). Very early varieties are commonly grown in cooler areas and for late plantings. Cool areas include the zone south of Highway 20, east of Highway 99.

They reach 50 percent heading in less than 90 days. It is increasingly common to plant very early varieties in warm areas to advance harvest and allow more time for straw management.

The principle public varieties in this category are M-104 and the newly released variety M-105. M-105 is earlier maturing than M- 206, but not as early as M-104. It exhibits very high, stable milling yields. Its yield potential is greater than M-104, but less than M-206. It is less cold tolerate than M-104. 2012 was the first year that M-105 was grown on a commercial scale. Preliminary tallies show that M- 105 frequently yielded over 9,000 lb/A dry with head/total values around 67 and 72 percent, respectively.

Another newly released variety, Calhikari-202 (CH-202), moved into commercial seed production in 2012. CH-202, a second generation California premium quality short grain, is a little earlier and out performs the yield, milling and cooking quality of Calhikari-201 (CH-201). Its yield, averaged over five years from the statewide variety trials, was 8,600 lb/A.

In contrast, CH-201 averaged 8,060 lb/A. CH-202 exhibits grain size and quality characteristics comparable to the premium quality Japanese varieties. See page 22 of the report at http://www.plant-sciences.ucdavis.edu/ricestation/linked/2011annualreport.pdf for more grain quality information. CH-202 certified seed will be available in 2013.

Early varieties, principally M-205 and M-206, occupy roughly 70 to 75 percent of the acreage. They are Calrose-type medium grains and are generally higher yielding than other varieties. These varieties are suited to a wide range of planting dates. They reach 50 percent heading in 86 to 92 days after planting depending on planting date and temperature. At harvest time, M-206 grain moisture content (MC) will sometimes “hang.” In other words, it will stop drying down.

In 2012, the dry down of M-206 stalled at around 25 percent MC for 10 to 14 days in some instances. This characteristic is exaggerated by cool temperatures. If you are in an area prone to blast disease, M-208 is the variety of choice. Its yield and milling potential is comparable to that of M-206.

Interestingly, the newer varieties can be safely harvested at lower grain MC that the last generation of varieties (e.g. M-202, Table 1). Keep in mind that safe harvesting at 18 percent MC refers to the first time the grain reaches that moisture level. Repeated grain rehydration cycles from dew or rain will fissure the kernels of the newer varieties. Consequently, high head and total yields may not be achieved at this lower MC if there has been repeated grain rehydration, as was sometimes the case during the latter part of the 2012 harvest season.

All California public rice varieties are sensitive to low temperatures during pollen development. 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. While many combinations of time and temperature can cause blanking, an overnight low of 55 degrees or lower can cause pollen sterility. Deep water (six to eight inches) to insulate the pollen is advisable for all varieties.

More about agronomic characteristics and planting dates of California public varieties can be found at http://www.plant-sciences.ucdavis.edu/uccerice/agronomy_fact_sheets/agronomy_fact_sheets.htm.

Suggested planting dates assume average weather conditions. Within the preferred planting date range, California varieties have high yield potential, other limiting factors notwithstanding. Planting outside the recommended ranges increases the risk of weather-related damage, particularly should the harvest season be cool and wet. Planting dates are not rigid, and many growers accept the risk and successfully plant outside these ranges.

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