LSU virtual field day focuses on row rice in NE Louisiana

• By Bruce Schultz •

scott franklin

Scott Franklin, president of the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association, welcomes attendees to LSU’s Virtual Row Rice Field Day.

Presentations for the virtual northeast Louisiana row rice field day were released July 27, providing farmers with the latest information from Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers.The complete event is available online at https://bit.ly/LSURowRice.

Melissa Cater, director of the AgCenter Northeast Region, credited AgCenter agents Keith Collins and Bruce Garner for their work on the virtual field day. The video presentations can be viewed at any time for future reference.

Mike Salassi, AgCenter vice president for plant and animal sciences, said the AgCenter is committed to rice research and extension work, and an emphasis is being placed on the practice of row rice that is being used more in northeast Louisiana.

In the videos, Garner and farmer Jason Waller of Morehouse Parish, made a presentation from a 48-acre field on Waller’s farm where five conventional rice varieties and three rice hybrids are being tested.

The stand was ideal, and “the stand counts were just phenomenal,” Garner said.

The field was irrigated after four to five days of no pumping.

Waller, who’s been growing row rice for five years, said he has learned to irrigate a field by looking at the soil.

“If we look at it and it’s wet, we’ll wait a day,” Waller said. “But if we look at it and it’s starting to get that dryness to the top of it, we’ll cut the pumps on, water it for just a little bit, wet it up and then back off again.”

Water had to be released from the field after a heavy rain, he said.

Waller said rice plants sometimes turn yellow near the irrigation pipe, and he suspects that’s a sign of nitrogen loss from colder water that can be remedied with additional nitrogen applications.

An application of herbicides Command, Sharpen and glyphosate was made immediately after planting on May 23, Garner said. And Waller said Ricebeaux and Facet were applied later to get an overlap of residual herbicides.

Row rice gains ground

AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell talked about the increased use of the row rice practice in northeast Louisiana. Louisiana rice acreage grown with the row rice practice was only 2,500 acres just three years ago. That has jumped to an estimated 30,000 acres this year compared with the 75,000 total acres of rice in northeast Louisiana.

Fertilization of a row rice crop is different from conventionally flooded rice, and it’s likely that nitrogen losses could be higher with row rice, Harrell said.

It’s believed that a row rice crop requires an additional 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre. “We need more research to make sure that’s the case,” he said.

bruce garner jason weller

AgCenter agent Bruce Garner (left) and rice grower Jason Waller discuss row rice production in Waller’s 48-acre field of row rice.

Harrell showed his various research projects at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, and the AgCenter Northeast Research Station at St. Joseph studying fertilizer rates and timing. “We’re going to find out what the optimum rate of nitrogen is,” he said.

In addition, he is studying different fertilizer treatments aimed at preventing nitrogen losses in row rice.

Don’t bug me

AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown said billbugs are found more often in row rice. Brown is conducting research to see what seed treatments will offer the best protection against the pest.

Brown said stink bugs are also becoming more of an issue in row rice.

Problem insects, including loopers, stink bugs and caterpillars, are showing up in soybeans. “Everything is earlier this year,” he said.

Blast may be worse

AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said the row rice practice that has become popular in north Louisiana is susceptible to blast disease due to rice is much more susceptible under upland conditions.

Blast is much worse than the common sheath blight disease that can reduce yield by 15% to 20%. “Under the worst case with blast, you might be left with 15 to 20%,” he said.

Blast is more of a problem with late-planted rice and high nitrogen rates. He said farmers should favor varieties with good blast resistance and avoid varieties with higher blast susceptibility.

Leaf blast occurs in young plants, but a fungicide application should only be made if rice plants are dying. Usually the rice will become resistant to leaf blast as it enters the reproductive stages. The next phase of blast is neck blast, and it can be treated with fungicides.

The most effective against blast are strobilurin fungicides, which include Quadris, Quilt, Amistar Top, Gem and Stratego. These fungicides should be applied at 50% to 70% heading to get good control.

The fungicide Stratego won’t be available next year, so farmers will have to mix fungicides Gem and Flint to get the effectiveness of Stratego, Groth said.

A very susceptible or susceptible variety with heavy leaf blast should be treated with a fungicide application at the boot stage followed by an application at heading.

Smut disease should be treated with an application at the boot stage because a heading application will not control smuts, Groth said.

Varieties in the pipeline

AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso talked about his work to develop new varieties.

More seed of a new Provisia variety, PVL02, will be available in 2021. It offers increased yield over PVL01 by as much as 15%, he said.

Four lines are being considered for PVL03, and a decision on one of those candidates will be made this year.

Famoso also is working on new conventional lines. The line LA2140 is similar to the Cheniere variety with good grain quality and a yield increase of 5% to 10% over Cheniere.

Another line, LA2207, has good yield potential and grain quality along with a blast-resistance gene. “This line has maintained its yield very well compared to the other lines,” Famoso said.

Work continues on a medium-grain line, LA2227, with high-yield potential and good grain quality.

A new Clearfield offering, CLL17, will be available in 2021 from Horizon Ag, Famoso said.

Soybean studies highlighted

AgCenter soybean specialist David Moseley spoke from a core block study in West Carroll Parish where 21 varieties are being grown, all in maturity group IV.

The soybean crop statewide appears to be progressing well. “It looks to be a really good year,” he said.

Two-thirds of the crop was rated good to excellent by mid-June. “Since then, the condition has improved every week,” Moseley said.

AgCenter plant pathologist Trey Price urged farmers to scout soybean fields weekly, and it’s possible that a fungicide application can be avoided. “If the weather cooperates, you can make the season without that input cost,” he said.

Price covered aerial blight, taproot decline, brown spot, target spot and frogeye leaf spot soybean diseases, along with Southern root knot nematode.

Fungicide research for row rice and flooded rice is being studied at the Macon Ridge Research Station near Winnsboro, and salt tolerance of different lines of rice is being studied along with breeding line evaluations. The Louisiana Rice Research Board is partially funding the work, Price said.

Thank you for checkoff funds

Scott Franklin, president of the Northeast Rice Growers Association, said the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board and Louisiana Rice Research Board keep the state’s rice industry afloat. “Without them, I’m afraid we’d be in very big trouble,” he said.

Franklin said farmers’ checkoff funds help pay for research for Clearfield and Provisia rice development and for furrow-irrigated rice.

The big jump in acreage of furrow-irrigated rice in north Louisiana was the result of a positive policy development, Franklin said.

“This is mainly due to the expansion of crop insurance to include furrow-irrigated rice,” he said, adding that was accomplished by Rep. Ralph Abraham.

Betsy Ward, president of USA Rice, is among presenters in the videos. She said Bobby Hanks, chief executive officer of the Supreme Rice Mill in Crowley, is the new USA Rice chairman.

Rice sales have increased during the ongoing pandemic. “We’re hoping to launch a new program to capitalize on that,” she said.

Kane Webb, USA Rice field representative in Louisiana, said the membership directory for the Louisiana Rice Growers Association has an online directory to replace the printed version. The directory is available to association members only at https://laricegrowers.com.

Steve Linscombe, director of The Rice Foundation, said the foundation funded four research projects that include one with Famoso, two in Texas and one in Arkansas.

The Rice Leadership Program will not select a new class this year. Linscombe explained that sessions for the current class are not being held because of the pandemic.

Bruce Schultz is assistant communications specialist at the LSU AgCenter. He may be reached at BSchultz@agcenter.lsu.edu