Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Bring it on!

PVL03 steps up with improved yield potential and disease package
along with solid grass control.

• By Vicky Boyd,
Editor •

The LSU AgCenter showed off PVL03 during the U.S. Rice Quality Symposium II, held in conjunction with the USA Rice Outlook Conference recently in New Orleans. The event provided opportunities for buyers to meet with rice breeders and learn about and taste some of their recent releases.

Rayne, Louisiana rice producer Fred Zaunbrecher has grown the Provisia rice varieties PVL01, PVL02 and now, PVL03, for seed. Although he said all three offer solid grass and weedy rice control because of the Provisia trait and paired Provisia herbicide, the first two releases were not as strong agronomically as he would have liked.

But that changed with PVL03, which brings improved yield potential, grain length, and blast and Cercospora resistance. In fact, Zaunbrecher — who farms with his brothers Phillip, Paul and Bill — said he plans to also plant some fields of it this season for commercial milling.

“We decided we’re going to plant some where we have had Clearfield,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really good rice.”

Evolution of Provisia varieties

Dr. Tim Walker, Horizon Ag general manager, said the evolution of Provisia varieties is following a similar path to early Clearfield development. The first few Clearfield varieties definitely lacked the agronomic characteristics of today’s Clearfield lines.

“PVL03 is right up there with some of the Clearfield varieties and much, much better than PVL01,” Walker said. “We finally have a variety that we feel comfortable using the technology on more than just emergency areas.

“Basically with 01, and to a certain extent with 02, we were using the technology on our worst fields that without the technology we wouldn’t be able to grow rice on. With 03, we can put it on fields that aren’t a problem so they don’t become a problem.”

In the 2021 Arkansas Rice Commercial Trials across 11 locations in the state, PVL03 averaged 185 bushels per acre, with an average milling yield of 58-71, according to preliminary results. The Clearfield long grain CLL16 averaged 201 bushels per acre, with an average milling yield of 55-69.

Better agronomics

PVL03 has a much-improved disease package compared to its predecessors, thanks to Pi-ta and Pi-ks blast-resistance genes. It also has a gene for Cercospora resistance.

Because of that, Zaunbrecher said he didn’t need to apply a blast fungicide this past season. Although he didn’t see Cercospora in the first crop, he did see some type of brown leaf spots in the second crop that likely affected grain fill in the most severely infected areas.

In addition to better disease tolerance, the new Provisia release has a kernel length of 7 millimeters, considered the sweet spot for long-grain buyers and millers. PVL01 had a very long kernel of 7.2 mm that was prone to breakage during milling. PVL02 had a 6.5 mm kernel, still considered a long grain but shorter than some buyers would like.

From the Louisiana State University AgCenter breeding program of Dr. Adam Famoso, PVL03 will be available commercially through Horizon Ag for this season.

Developed using conventional breeding techniques, Provisia rice varieties withstand over-the-top applications of Provisia herbicide from BASF. Because the herbicide strictly targets grassy weeds, including weedy rice, growers will need to incorporate broadleaf weed management into their weed control programs.

Wait for the sun

For best results, BASF recommends applying Provisia herbicide when the crop is growing well and on a sunny day with a forecast for several more sunny days.

Zaunbrecher said he has seen firsthand the benefits of following the recommendation. During his first year with PVL01, he made the first Provisia application only to have the weather turn cool and cloudy for several days. As a result, he saw a crop response, but the plants eventually grew out of it. 

In 2021, Zaunbrecher had one field that proved challenging for stand establishment. They had moved dirt the previous year and even applied chicken litter afterward. Even so, he suspected the dirt work caused lingering problems. 

Once the crop came up, five weeks of cold weather delayed the first Provisia application.

“We couldn’t spray Provisia until it got warm or the rice got a little bigger,” he said. “You don’t want to spray Provisia during cold weather. The only thing you can do is wait, but at the same time the grass and red rice is going to get bigger.”

Horizon Ag district field representative for north Arkansas Chase Kagen checks out a field of PVL03 near Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Technology stewardship

To help preserve the Provisia technology, Walker recommended growers use it in rotation with Clearfield rice, conventional rice and/or soybeans. Regardless of the mix, he warned against growing two consecutive years of Provisia rice.

“Ultimately, the rotation that BASF has talked about is four years,” Walker said. “You could theoretically grow three crops of rice and one crop of soybeans.”

Although he said soybeans are an option for many growers in the Delta, they may not work well for growers in Texas and South Louisiana, where fallowing is part of the rotation. In those areas, Walker said two rounds of a Provisia-fallow rotation could possibly result in growers eventually being able to return to using Clearfield varieties as part of the mix.

Pleased with overall results

Overall, Zaunbrecher said he was pleased with his PVL03 yields, especially since he planted only 24 pounds per acre to try to maximize seed production. A 45-acre field yielded more than 50 barrels (180 bushels) per acre on the first crop, while another 48-acre field yielded more than 40 barrels (144 bushels) per acre. The field with stand problems yielded about 40 barrels.

“The two fields that did well early did about 17 barrels (61 bushels) on the second crop,” he said. “The one that had stand problems made about 11 barrels (40 bushels).”

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