Mo Way on Rice: Texas Rice Belt Planting in Full Swing
Recently, I drove to Baton Rouge to participate in a Master of Science thesis defense by an entomology student, Anthony Brown, at LSU. Anthony worked for me as a summer helper for 6 years beginning as a sophomore in high school and ending as an entomology student at Texas A&M. Anthony became interested in entomology during his time in my project. He graduated with a BS degree in entomology from Texas A&M and transferred to LSU for an MS degree under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Davis, soybean entomologist. Anthony’s thesis involved pesticide resistance monitoring and management of a serious southern soybean/cotton pest, the soybean looper.
Anthony did a great job and worked hard, and Dr. Davis provided excellent guidance and financial support. Now, Anthony is a professional extension entomologist with LSU and primarily will help cotton and corn farmers in Northeast Louisiana. Eventually he will work towards a PhD degree in entomology while working full time—a tough job, but Anthony can do it! I mention this story about Anthony because the future of US agriculture—including rice—depends largely on young professionals like Anthony.
US agriculture needs well-trained, able and dedicated young scientists who can help US farmers/ranchers solve their myriad problems as well as develop and evaluate new technologies to improve yields and quality while preserving/improving the environment. Who knows, Anthony one day may be working to better US rice production! So, if you know a young primary or secondary student—maybe your child or grandchild or other relation or neighbor—who shows an interest in science, contact your County Extension Agent or research scientist at your closest rice research and extension center and tell the Agent/scientist about this student. You never know, this young student could become a next generation scientist to help sustain our industry!
Today is April 7 and planting in the Texas Rice Belt is in full swing. Planting this year has been delayed because of a wetter than “normal” winter and early spring in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. For instance, the Beaumont Center has received over 20 inches of rain since January 1 of this year; the “average” for this time period is about 12 inches. This is good because rice farmers east of Houston will have enough surface water to irrigate both main and ratoon crops. However, surface water from the Colorado River west of Houston will be drastically curtailed for rice farmers in this part of the Texas Rice Belt. Winter rains have helped fill lakes Travis and Buchanan northwest of Austin, but not enough to lift water restrictions for rice farmers who depend on the Colorado River for irrigation.
On my drive over to Baton Rouge, I observed some rice farms along I-10 were already water-planted, but no fields were dry-planted. Thus, farmers in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana who plan to plant dry, have been unable because of wet soil conditions. Early plantings are crucial to production of satisfactory main and ratoon crops. Let’s hope the weather cooperates, so dry-planting can proceed.
Dr. Natalie Hummel, LSU AgCenter extension entomologist, and cooperators just released the “Beta Version of the RiceScout App”. This is an excellent tool you can use in the field with a smart phone, iPad or laptop computer. This App has pictures of rice insects, diseases, weeds and nutrient problems, and presents information on biology, damage and management of the above pests and disorders. Also, links to more detailed information and recommendations are contained in the RiceScout App. It’s like having an encyclopedia of the most current rice production information at your fingertips while you are in the field or pick-up!