Start Clean, Plant Early

rcc-Justin-GeorgeI’ve always been involved in agriculture on both sides of my family. In the seventh grade, I wrote the typical “What do you want to be when you grow up?” paper, and my choice was to be a crop consultant. That was my goal even then. In 1995, I worked for the Grenada County Extension office scouting cotton, and in 1996, I worked in Bolivar County for a private consultant checking rice, cotton and other crops for seven years. In 2003, I started my own consulting business – J.P. George Consulting Service. I feel like I have been really blessed to get into a consulting profession. I like being outdoors and enjoy playing a part in crop development. If I can’t be a farmer, I can be right there with them and still be involved in agriculture.

Conditions were cool and wet early in the 2013 season. We probably had the latest start we’ve had on rice in four years. But we did not have high heat during pollination like we did in 2010-12. So at the end of the season, we had some high yields, especially in conventional varieties such as Rex and Cheniere. In fact, we planted a lot of conventional varieties last year because we had scaled back a lot of the red rice, and we wanted to protect the Clearfield technology with this stewardship approach.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 7.14.18 PMThe good experience we had last year gives us confidence in 2014 to go forward with more conventional rice varieties. We have a strong rice breeding program and our Mississippi rice specialist, Dr. Tim Walker, is a real rice advocate and is doing a lot of good research for our state. He has also helped us address a lot of the fertility issues related to the rising pH on our heavy, irrigated Delta soils. For example, we found that high pH is tying up phosphorous, so we are adding additional phosphorous in the form of DAP/sulfate blends, which have been beneficial in improving yields in the past few years.

As far as weed problems, barnyardgrass is ever present, even more so now than 15 years ago. Pigweed is also an issue. We’ve built up a seedbank of grass, and now we are building up a seedbank of resistant pigweeds, which are present in rice fields early in the season.

They do play out in the flood, but that early pigweed competition is detrimental to rice yield. We are going to have to pay more attention to both early pigweed and grass competition during the first two, three or four weeks of rice development. We usually try to control sprangletop with a good residual herbicide program, and, as the growing season approaches, early burndown will be key for controlling Italian ryegrass.

In addition, we encourage our growers, if possible, to plant early – from the end of March through the first of April. Another high-priority issue is reducing the amount of glyphosate drift, which can be very detrimental to rice yields.

Make 2014 the year to start clean and stay clean.

Justin George
J.P. George Consulting Service
Merigold, Miss.

• B.S. degree in Biology – Delta State University

• Operated J.P. George Consulting Service for 10 years

• Consults on rice, soybeans, corn, milo and wheat

• Serves on the Board of Directors for Mississippi
Agricultural Consultant Association (MACA).
Serves on Research and Education Committee
and the Scholarship Committee

• Serves on the Mississippi Certified Crop Advisors board

• Married to wife, Dana. Three children: Daughter,
Anna Patton (6); son, Parker (4) and daughter,
Blaire (10 months)

• Enjoys spending time with his family at Lake Whittington,
participating in church activities and duck hunting