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Hybrid Rice Update
Rice Quality Matters
Variety/Hybrid 2014 Roster
From the Editor
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Specialist Speaking
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Specialist Speaking

Ratoon acreage continues to increase

This year about 130,000 acres of rice were planted in Texas – similar to the 2012 planting. For both years, most rice farmers along the Colorado River in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda Counties were not able to tap this important source of irrigation water due to a continuing drought. However, rainfall amounts in the Colorado River watershed were higher in 2013 than either 2012 or 2011.

Recent statewide elections resulted in passage of Proposition 6, which dedicates $2 billion to finance water projects to help Texas meet its current and future agricultural, industrial and urban demands for this precious resource. Some of these monies may be used to build new reservoirs.

The 2013 Texas rice crop was good, but yield-wise, not as good as 2012. Reports from the field indicate approximately five to 10 percent lower yields compared to 2012, which was a record year. Based on the Texas Rice Crop Survey (26,000 acres reporting), average main crop yield this year was about 7,100 lb/A. Ratoon yield data are still unavailable.

However, percent main crop ratooned in Texas in 2013 was about 67 percent, which continues to increase yearly because farmers realize that they can produce excellent ratoon rice crops with proper management. The days of “lagniappe” or “provident” rice are over! Also, more farmers this year are ratooning rice even though they harvested their main crop after Aug. 15. Texas’ five most popular varieties in 2013 were Presidio, XL723, CLXL745, 4) XL753 and CL152, respectively.

Our rice crop got off to a slow start this year because of a cool and relatively wet early spring. Some early herbicide phytotoxicity was observed, probably due to slow metabolism of the pesticide in the young rice plant.

Disease problems were not a big issue on the main crop in 2013, but narrow brown leaf spot was prevalent on the ratoon crop. Sheath blight fungicide resistance was not observed in Texas in 2013.

Rice water weevil and stalk borer populations were average or above with more farmers opting to manage these pests with seed treatments. I personally observed high densities of whiteheads in some ratoon rice fields. Stalk borers can be effectively controlled using a selected seed treatment or proper timing of selected foliar sprays. Rice stink bug populations were high, and some farmers reported unexpectedly high levels of peck in their rice. On the bright side, no new pests were encountered in 2013!

I want to mention the passing of Robert Bauer in November. Robert was a long-time rice farmer and cattle rancher near Winnie, Texas. He was a strong supporter of rice research and served as President of the Texas Rice Improvement Association from 1977 to 2002. We all dearly miss Robert and his great smile, hearty laugh, wisdom and knowledge.

Robert Bauer (1928-2013) was a strong supporter of Texas rice research.


Smooth sailing

The 2013 California rice-growing season was one without any widespread complicating factors that impacted the crop. Recent rice seasons have been impacted by wet planting conditions, extreme heat during the growing season, cold-induced blanking, and/or difficult harvest conditions. For the most part, the 2013 California rice crop escaped most of these perils. This growing season was as stress free as any in recent memory outside of the normal issues with pest management.

In 2013, California rice planting was generally early thanks to a dry spring that allowed ground preparation and planting to proceed at a rapid and uninterrupted pace. Well over half of our rice was planted by the middle of May, well ahead of recent planting schedules. Unseasonably warm temperatures persisted from the middle of April to the middle of May, allowing for good stand establishment. There was a brief period of high winds during planting, which resulted in some fields having poor seedling distribution, leading to increased difficulty in weed management.

Temperatures greater than 105 degrees persisted for a week at the beginning of July. Long periods of extreme temperatures during the growing season are usually indicative of lower yields. However, it appears that the extreme heat occurred early enough to not have a significant impact on overall yields in 2013.

Conditions throughout the remainder of the growing season remained near normal. Nighttime temperatures generally stayed warm enough during the sensitive pollen meiosis stage to prevent cold temperature blanking, and temperatures were near normal during flowering resulting in good pollination conditions.

2013 California rice ripening and harvest conditions were some of the best we have experienced in recent years. Early planting dates, coupled with very little rainfall in the fall, resulted in few interruptions once harvest was underway. Yields were quite variable with a mix of below-average yields and record yields for some farms and individual fields. Milling quality was generally exceptional due to the favorable ripening and harvest conditions.

As of the first week of November, virtually all of the California rice crop had been harvested. The Nov. 8 USDA NASS projections for California rice indicated an estimated 556,000 acres of rice harvested with an estimated statewide yield of 8,400 lbs/A for a 290 lbs/A increase over 2012. Looking forward to 2014, the focus is on water again. Following two dry winters, a significant amount of snowfall is needed this winter in order to recharge reservoirs and ensure normal irrigation deliveries in 2014.


Positive impact of mild growing season

The USDA Farm Service Agency certified 122,267 planted acres for rice in the “Delta”counties, according to the September 2013 estimate. This represented a 3 percent decrease in acreage from 2012, and a 44 percent decrease from the 10-year average. This is the lowest acreage in Mississippi since 1977. The lingering effects of lower yields and prices in 2010 and 2011 coupled with a continuation of high soybean and corn prices that were present at planting time kept rice acreage low. Had it not been for the delayed planting caused by the cool, wet spring, rice acreage would have been even less as a considerable amount of corn acres shifted to rice in late April and early May. Rice was planted in 16 Delta counties in 2013.

Bolivar and Tunica County ranked first and second on planted acreage at 34,000 and 25,000 acres, respectively. Rice acreage was comprised of 15 cultivars. The most popular cultivars were CLXL745, Rex and CL152, which were planted to 19, 15 and 15 percent of the acreage, respectively. Clearfield acreage totaled 65 percent of the planted acreage with pure lines comprising 35 percent and hybrids 30 percent. Twenty-six percent of the acreage was planted to conventional pure lines, and the remaining 8 percent was planted to conventional hybrid. For the first year since 2001, Rex replaced Cocodrie as the most widely planted conventional pure line. It received many favorable reviews for its yield and milling performance. This Mississippi State University-developed variety appears to be selling itself among producers as it continues to increase in the share of acreage it is planted to. It has high yield potential, acceptable milling quality and is stable across locations and farming practices. One of its best attributes is that it has shown excellent straw strength, which has been welcomed as growers have harvested more lodged rice than is acceptable in recent years.

Rice planting began as early as March 14; however, due to a relatively cool and wet spring, planting and stand establishment were slow. Specifically, an estimated 13 percent of the acreage was planted by the end of April compared to 95 percent being planted by the same time in 2012, and an average of 64 percent being planted over the previous five years. In 2013, 95 percent of the acreage wasn’t planted until the end of May. Based on Stoneville, Miss., weather records, temperatures in the months of March-June averaged between three and four degrees cooler relative to the 84-year average. This deviation allowed the 2013 growing season to be ranked as one of the coolest on record. In addition to a slow start, the crop progress was slower compared to 2012 and the recent five-year average.

Though it caused concern early in the season, the mild growing season positively impacted rice grain yield and quality. In November, USDA predicted Mississippi farmers to average 7,500 pounds per acre (167 bushels per acre), which if the estimate holds, will set a new yield record for Mississippi. The previous record of 7,350 pounds per acre (163 bushels per acre) was set in 2007. Producers across the state have reported favorable yields. Late-planted rice in 2013 has also performed better than normal. The mild temperatures encountered in 2013 should also produce good milling and improve the appearance of polished white rice. Finally, harvest weather was excellent until late September, allowing harvest to proceed at a good pace. Though rains became more frequent in late September through October, lodging was minimal relative to recent years. Part of this is the result of planting more stiff-strawed cultivars like Rex and CL152.

One of the biggest problems growers faced in 2013 was off-target herbicide drift. The bulk of the complaints occurred south of U.S. Highway 82 in the Arcola and Hollandale area. A considerable amount of rice was planted late March into April. Due to coolerthan- normal temperatures, rice was slow to emerge. After emergence, the wind and weekly rains persisted, and applicators pushed the envelope with tankmixes that typically included glyphosate or paraquat plus residual herbicides.

A few years ago, it was just glyphosate. As glyphosate-resistant weeds have increased, the number of active ingredients has increased and the timing of application has become more critical. Though it’s not what we prefer, researchers/Extension personnel have become very adept at identifying glyphosate drift and helping growers manage through the early season injury. This year’s situation was different. In our earlier cases, the weather did not aid rice recovery, so the effects of the drift lingered longer than normal.

Furthermore, as previously stated, it’s not just glyphosate anymore. Injury symptoms are more complex and the unknown factor is the rate of residual herbicide, some of which have activity on rice. This being said, a much greater percentage of rice affected by off-target herbicide drift was replanted. Scientists, industry and applicators will have to work together to combat off-target drift. Unless products become available that have longer residual control of Palmer amaranth (pigweed), the mindset of “chasing the planter” with a sprayer will have to change to “chasing the sprayer” with a planter. The prior mindset puts applicators in a bind. If herbicides aren’t sprayed prior to crop emergence, pigweed wins out in many cases. Rice is extremely vulnerable in the Southern USA farming system.

However, this crop has once again weathered the challenges, produced record per-acre yields, and, as of today, will increase in Mississippi in 2014.


2013: More than just different

Going into 2013, we cautioned growers that whatever was going to happen they shouldn’t expect a repeat of 2012. Compared to 2012, it turned out that 2013 couldn’t have been more different if you held it upside down by the ankles. After planting at a record early pace in 2012, this season we were met with persistent cold and rainy conditions in March and April, and we never warmed up consistently until mid-May.

By April 21, only 23 percent of the state’s rice had been planted, compared to 48 percent over the five-year average. As the planting season progressed later, increasing amounts of the projected 1.23 million rice acres began shifting to soybean. Ultimately, 1.07 million acres of rice were planted in Arkansas, which is the lowest since the late 1980s. It should be noted that nearly 300,000 rice acres were reported as prevented planting (FSA Crop Acreage Data).

After planting, the growing season went much differently for rice growers, depending on whether they were in the northern or southern part of the state. Those in the central part were truly caught in the middle. Looking at numbers from the Rice Research Verification Program, in-season rainfall averaged 17 inches for fields in the north compared to eight inches for fields in the south. A great deal of this difference was the result of one or two large rainfall events that could not have come at a worse time.

Some producers in the north received anywhere from five to 12 inches of rain at mid-season – many just after applying preflood nitrogen and getting fields flooded up. The heavy rainfall resulted in blown levees, and, ultimately, fields had to be drained so levees could be rebuilt. Nitrogen was lost, but how much? Every situation was different and we were forced to make a lot of judgment calls.

Mild temperatures were the common theme from mid-season through harvest with only a few days topping 100 degrees. In addition, nighttime temperatures were moderate with only a handful of nights above 75 degrees. Rainy and cloudy conditions made the late part of the season very strange. It seemed as though northern Arkansas didn’t see the sun for weeks during grain fill. While this likely had some adverse effects on pollination and grain fill, overall the effects were not as bad as we feared.

Mild temperatures and wet conditions ramped up the disease pressure in the north as well. Sheath blight was rice farmer enemy No. 1, sometimes even on cultivars that normally withstand the disease. Many fungicide applications that went out for sheath blight control also included a fungicide for suppression of kernel smut and false smut. Less than optimum suppression of the smuts was observed; most likely due to intense disease pressure, resulting from weather conditions and possible issues with application timing. We will continue to monitor the performance of fungicides against smuts to see if a pattern develops or if the problems were mainly caused by conditions favorable for disease.

Rice stink bug numbers did hit significant levels early but did not persist to the extreme we thought possible. Growers and consultants seemed to be on top of the problem, and insecticide applications were made quickly when thresholds were reached. Intense management of early heading fields likely helped to suppress overall stink bug populations from reaching extremely high levels.

Despite a difficult growing season from start to finish, Arkansas achieved a new record state average rice yield of 168 bushels per acre for 2013. This average tops the previous state record of 166 achieved just last year. Many factors likely contributed to the record yield, including mild daytime and nighttime temperatures during grain fill, a reduction in overall rice acreage and rice planted to marginal ground, a lower percentage of fields planted to Clearfield cultivars that have lower yield potential and favorable conditions present at harvest.

One contributing factor to the record yield that is perhaps the most important: our growers. We have some of the best rice producers in the world, and this new record is a testament to their ability to grow rice successfully under any conditions. Hopefully, in 2014, we will continue to improve on our success, without some of the issues that made this a very trying season.


‘Optimism exceeds my superstition’

I have had a lot of calls from farmers wondering if all this short, late rice is going to suffer yield loss. I really do not know. Logic points to a reduction in yield because it has an effect similar to late planting. However, I think the weather in June and July will have a great deal to do with the success or failure of the crop.

“If we experience a mild summer with more sunshine than we have had of late, yield potential is good. If it turns out excessively hot and humid, there is less chance of good yields.” This quote is from my May 10, 2013, issue of Field Notes. The weather in June and the first couple of weeks of July was very favorable; normal to below normal temperatures and lots of sunshine.

The USDA estimates the state average yield at 6,800 pounds per acre as of this writing, and county agent surveys in rice-growing parishes are suggesting even higher yields. This is without consideration of second crop yields, reports of which have been excellent. According to our parish surveys, about 32 percent of Louisiana’s acreage is in ratoon production. Based on early reports, this could add 500 to 1,000 pounds per acre to the first crop yields. This translates into the potential to surpass the 7,000 pound-per-acre barrier for the first time in Louisiana. I realize I may be “jinxing” the yield by putting it in writing, but my optimism exceeds my superstition.

When Dr. Steve Linscombe analyzed the data from his date of planting studies, he found what can only be described as abnormal results. In years past, with the exception of 2004, rice yields decline as planting becomes later. In some years, this was a nearly straight line decline. This year, when they harvested the first three dates, grain moisture was lower in date 3 than in dates 1 and 2. The highest yields were in dates 3, 4 and 5 and the lowest in dates 1 and 6. This does not mean we can safely plant late, it means we got lucky last year.

The blast epidemic of 2012 caused a shift in varieties. CL151, which had been the dominant variety in 2012, was planted to only four percent of the state acreage. CL111, CLXL745 and Cheniere represented 27 percent, 14 percent and 12 percent of the acreage respectively. The real surprise was Jazzman-2, which made up eight percent of the acreage.

Reports from the field indicate dissatisfaction with the yield/premium combination of Jazzman-2. Unless higher premiums are offered to offset the significantly lower yields, the acreage devoted to it is likely to decline next year. Lower yields of CL152, compared to CL151, were also a complaint. Where grain quality issues do not come into play, the yield potential of CL151 offers a distinct advantage to growers. Much the same can be said of the hybrid varieties, which have exceptional yield ability.

Information about recommended varieties and management practices will be available in Rice Varieties and Management Tips 2014 available through your local county agent or on the web at: www.lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/rice/Publications.

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