Louisiana Rice Farmers Hear Optimistic Outlook at LSU Meetings

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    Rice farmers attending LSU AgCenter producer meetings are getting a dose of much needed optimism for 2016, with the start of planting season only two months away.

    The good news includes the potential for higher prices and federal approval of a bird repellent for rice seed.

    LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi said rice stocks have declined by 22 percent from last year, and higher prices are anticipated. “It’s slowly moving up to $20 a barrel,” he told farmers at the meeting in Crowley.

    The projected average price for long-grain rice is $19.44 a barrel, or $12 per hundredweight, he said. The projected average for medium-grain rice is $19.93 a barrel, or $12.30 per hundredweight.

    A decrease in rice acreage nationwide last year halted a price decline that started in 2014, Salassi said. Louisiana rice acreage in 2015 was 415,000, down by roughly 40,000 acres from the previous year.

    Conditional approval for the bird repellent was signed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 5.

    AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell said the EPA granted the approval for two years for the bird repellent AV-1011. The material does not hurt the birds, but it prevents them from eating seed treated with the natural chemical after they have consumed a small amount of the repellent-treated seed.

    Also at the meetings, farmers learned about two new varieties developed at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station.

    Clearfield CL153, long-grain variety,  has good grain quality and good disease resistance, said LSU AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe. The variety is in seed production this year, and it will be a good alternative to CL151 when it is available for commercial production next year.

    A new medium-grain variety, Clearfield CL272, will be an improvement over CL271, he said, with better yields and improved grain appearance and uniformity

    Linscombe said work continues at the station on hybrid development with the expectation that a commercially viable hybrid might be in the pipeline in two to three years. In addition, a potential Clearfield Jazzman variety is ready for harvest now in Puerto Rico.

    A seed increase for the herbicide-resistant Provisia rice is also being produced on a seven-acre field in Puerto Rico.

    AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster advised farmers that tank mixing the Provisia herbicide with other herbicides can result in damaged rice. “I can’t tell you when it’s going to happen or when it’s not going to happen,” he said.

    Webster said he also is testing the herbicide Rinskor, which has a new mode of action that works well on broadleaf weeds and grasses.

    Harrell said last year’s heavy rainfall challenged farmers during planting time. In addition, the unusually wet spring caused problems with fertilizer applications that are recommended for dry soil.

    AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth reminded farmers that planting early is advised for disease-susceptible varieties. “Once you get into April planting, you are creating more risk.”

    Late-planted rice needs to be treated earlier with a fungicide, Groth said. And applying only the recommended amount of nitrogen can reduce disease severity.

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    AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout said insect problems can be reduced by planting early and using a seed treatment for rice water weevils.

    Stout said the Mexican rice borer continues its spread into Louisiana, with adults found in St. Landry Parish in the fall. It was first found in Calcasieu Parish in 2008.

    Stout also said a new threshold for stinkbugs probably will be recommended this year.

    AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said severe flooding in north Louisiana and heavy rainfall and drought in south Louisiana were problems for many farmers. But he said farmers who grew their crops on raised beds with irrigation had good results.

    Salassi said soybean prices will probably not increase in 2015, with a projected Louisiana average of $9.20 per bushel. He said two years of record crops have boosted ending stocks.

    “Unless we have a significant drop in acreage, it’s going to take a while to move those soybeans out of the market,” Salassi said.

    Additional LSU sessions are scheduled for Jan. 19 in Mansura, Feb. 2 in Rayville and Feb. 25 in Breaux Bridge.

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