Row rice gains interest in northeast Louisiana

row rice louisiana

Water from polyethylene pipe is used to irrigate row rice a technique for growing rice by keeping the soil moist instead of flooding a field. More farmers are using the-row rice method because it offers more flexibility when farmers are trying to decide what to plant. No levees are required for row rice. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter

Rice farmers in northeast Louisiana, including those interested in trying row rice, heard advice from LSU AgCenter scientists about the upcoming 2019 season at a recent meeting in Rayville.

They also heard some potentially good news from the president of USA Rice about possible rice sales to China.

Row rice is becoming more popular with more than 100,000 acres in Arkansas and about 5,000 acres in northeast Louisiana last year. It is expected to gain acreage this year.

Farmer Elliot Colvin of Richland Parish said 2018 was his first year he tried the row rice method, and he was surprised how easy it was. “I was thoroughly impressed,” he said.

Colvin said it’s best to flush a field after it’s planted to see if the water is flowing as expected before the rice is growing.

AgCenter agent Keith Collins conducted a row-rice study using Colvin’s field, a field in Morehouse Parish and a third in Tensas Parish. The method can save water, he said.

Collins said the VandeVen farm field in Tensas Parish used 169 pounds of nitrogen per acre, and it yielded 239 bushels — or 66 barrels — of rice per acre.

Colvin used 214 pounds of nitrogen per acre with a yield of 235 bushels — 65 barrels — of rice per acre.

At Jason Waller’s farm in Morehouse Parish, 231 pounds of nitrogen was used, and the yield was 216 bushels — 60 barrels — of rice per acre.

All three fields were planted with hybrid rice.

Colvin said areas of a field where airplane-applied fertilizer overlapped had bad disease problems and plants lodged.

“Definitely, I’ll be going down on my nitrogen,” Colvin said. He said he probably will use no more than 170 to 180 pounds per acre this year.

Resistant sheath blight spreads

AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said the sheath blight disease resistant to strobilurin fungicides has continued to spread and has now been found in Mississippi. A new fungicide, Amistar Top, was not as effective as hoped last year, he said.

Many farmers use too much nitrogen expecting to produce higher yields, but those yield increases can come with a penalty. “The more nitrogen you have out there, the more disease,” he said.

He said two lines of Clearfield rice grown in Puerto Rico were being harvested by AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso, who will plant the seed in foundation fields this spring at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. Groth said both lines have better yield potential than the long-grain variety, CL153.

Groth also said a new Provisia line harvested in Puerto Rico out-yields the current Provisia, PVL01, by 10 percent. It will be grown for seed in 2019 and expected to be released commercially as PVL02 for the 2020 season.

A new conventional long-grain line is under development with yields 8 to 10 percent better than the Cheniere variety.

Ben McKnight, AgCenter research associate for weed science, said fields that will be planted with Provisia rice should be cleaned up beforehand with a tankmix of Command and Sharpen, Prowl or RiceOne herbicides. That application will enable Provisia to be more effective on red rice, he said.

Permit can be mixed with Provisia, but farmers should avoid mixing Provisia with propanil, Grandstand, Grasp or Regiment, McKnight said. Rice at the one- to three-leaf stage can be killed by Provisia.

AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown said Fortenza seed treatment used with CruiserMaxx is comparable to Dermacor as a seed treatment for rice water weevils. But it’s likely that Fortenza is toxic to crawfish.

The new insecticide, Tenchu, is effective on stink bugs, but it may be too cost prohibitive to use in certain situations where a pyrethroid is a more economical option.

Brown reminded farmers that acephate cannot legally be used on rice to control stink bugs.

Optimistic trade news

Betsy Ward

By Betsy Ward
President and CEO
USA Rice

Betsy Ward, USA Rice president, said hopes are high that China will follow through on the potential purchase of American rice. She said China has approved U.S. seven facilities to handle rice, and U.S. trade officials are in China now to work on trade issues.

“They feel like they’re going to throw us a bone and buy some rice,” she said.

Ward said the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico doesn’t change the U.S. rice trade with those two countries. But Mexico isn’t buying as much American rice.

Mexico, the No. 1 U.S. rice customer, had been buying 95 percent of its rice from the United States. That has dropped to 75 percent.

“Just the rhetoric has hurt our sales there. The Mexicans have started looking at other suppliers because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ward said.

Most of the U.S. rice sold to Europe goes to the United Kingdom, she said, so Brexit could actually help the United States sell more rice there because England would not be under EU trade restrictions.

Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president for marketing and communications, reviewed two promotion projects.

The USA Rice “Ride with Rice Tour” covered 5,000 miles in nine states. He said 3,000 rice cookers were given away on the tour that started in Crowley, Louisiana, and ended in San Diego, California. The Louisiana Rice Promotion Board and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry used a billboard and radio spots to promote rice in September.

Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs, said crop insurance for row rice could be available in 2021, and alternate wetting and drying could be insurable by next year.

Rogers Leonard, AgCenter associate vice president, said the Louisiana Rice Research Board used $1 million from a free-trade agreement with Colombia to fund an academic chair aimed at rice research. Interest from the fund will be used in perpetuity for research only, and the board hopes to increase the funding later.

“Those funds will never go away,” he said.

The chair is a novel approach to funding research.

“Sugarcane is trying to do the same thing, as well as some other commodities,” Leonard said.

He said the Louisiana Rice Research Board has funded two major rice research projects in northeast Louisiana, and a research entomologist and a soil fertility specialist will be hired at the LSU AgCenter Tom Scott Research and Extension Center at Winnsboro.

“There is considerable activity for rice research in this region,” he said.

The Louisiana State University AgCenter contributed this article.