Louisiana Rice: Rains Slow Harvest; Yields Look Fair-to-Good

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The rice harvest in south Louisiana has gotten off to a wet start that is preventing farmers from getting into their fields, LSU AgCenter rice extension specialist Dustin Harrell said on July 12 at a northeast Louisiana rice field day.

Farmers who planted earlier than usual are ready to harvest, weather permitting, Harrell said. Harvest has been difficult because of frequent rainfall in southwest Louisiana.

Only a few yields have been reported, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the results of this year’s crop. “The few yields reported so far are fair to good, but not great,” he said.

Cloudy conditions at flowering and flooding when the plants were young will probably affect yields. Roughly 4,000 acres were lost from flooding, and the total state acreage is about 400,000, 8 percent less than last year’s total, Harrell said.

AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe said a Clearfield hybrid line in development at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station looks promising for commercial release. “I can tell you we are coming very close to having a commercial hybrid available,” he said.

The line’s quality is good, and that characteristic is essential for a hybrid released by the LSU AgCenter.

Research plots, such as the one conducted at the Vic Jordan farm where the field day was held, would not be possible without funding from the Louisiana Rice Research Board, Linscombe said. The off-station work helps in the selection process of breeding lines by exposing germplasm to different environments.

The new Provisia rice technology also is nearing a release, he said, providing growers with a second herbicide-resistant system in addition to Clearfield.

The first release will have the long grain length desired in overseas markets, and it has good grain quality, Linscombe said.

AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster said some injury to young rice is to be expected with the first application of the Provisia technology, but the rice will recover.

AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown said insect pressure in north Louisiana rice fields has been light so far this year.

AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said blast disease has been light so far, and only two fields have been reported with it. The flood had been lost on both fields, and that resulted in the disease flourishing.

Groth cautioned farmers that variety disease resistance is not a constant. “The longer you grow that variety, the fungus has the ability to overcome the resistance,” he said.

Groth said 9-12 ounces of propiconazole are needed against Cercospora in south Louisiana instead of the previously recommended 6-ounce rate because the disease has become more tolerant of the fungicide.

Propiconazole used for smut diseases should be applied at mid-boot, he said.

Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for plants, soil and water resources, said higher education was not cut during the recent legislative session.

But the AgCenter is continuing to make its operation more efficient. It’s likely that not every parish will have a county agent and that county agents will have commodity specializations in multi-parish areas.

Leonard also said a search is underway to replace Linscombe, who will retire as director of the LSU AgCenter Southwest Region and director of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in August.

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