The 2018 rice harvest in southwest Louisiana is past the halfway point, and LSU AgCenter agents say farmers are pleased.
“Yields have been good, and it seems overall to be a very good crop,” said Jeremy Hebert, LSU AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish. “Overall, it seems like the yields have been very good.”
Dry weather allowed most farmers to get into the fields during the past week, and the harvest progressed well. “I would think we’re probably close to 65 to 70 percent complete,” Hebert said.
Most fields are producing around 45 barrels an acre — or 165 bushels or 7,200 pounds. The highest yields he has heard was 62 barrels (or 225 bushels or 10,000 pounds), Hebert said.
Lower yields could be the result of weed problems and issues that delayed fertilizer applications, he said.
Todd Fontenot, AgCenter agent in Evangeline Parish, estimated that two-thirds of the rice there has been harvested.
More rice fields are being used for crawfish this year instead of a second crop of rice. “I’m hearing more people saying they’ve stocked crawfish,” Fontenot said.
Don Groth, resident coordinator at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, said harvest results have been positive. “Overall, the numbers are good,” he said.
A surprise has been the performance of the new Provisia rice variety PVL01. It was not expected to yield well but provide farmers with an option to fight weedy rice that could be controlled with the Provisia herbicide. Provisia yields in the mid-40-barrel range have been common, Groth said.
Performance of the new Amistar Top fungicide has been disappointing, although it performed well in previous years in small plots. It seemed to work well when used with another fungicide, Tilt, and it may require earlier applications, he said.
More smut disease than normal has been showing up, but fewer farmers have reported bad outbreaks of blast, Cercospora or sheath blight diseases, Groth said.
“Every year is unique, and we learn something new every year,” he said.
Frances Guidry, AgCenter agent in Jefferson Davis Parish, said 60 to 70 percent of the crop has been cut, but bad weather interfered with farmers’ progress. “Rain for seven days straight set them back,” she said.
Yields in the low- to mid-40s are common, she said.
AgCenter extension rice specialist Dustin Harrell said yields are better than in the past three years. Weather played a big part in this year’s good crop. Dry weather early in the season reduced chances for disease, he said, and good weather conditions were ideal for pollination.
It’s possible the year could even set a harvest record. “It just depends on if these yields hold up on our later-planted rice,” Harrell said.
Andrew Granger, AgCenter agent in Vermilion Parish, said yields there have been good, with most fields exceeding 40 barrels per acre.
“It’s been a good year,” Granger said. “With a couple of breaks in the weather, we got a lot of rice out.”
Provisia has yielded better than anticipated, but its maturity has been uneven within the same field, he said.
Granger estimated that about half of the rice acreage will be used to grow a second crop, “just because the conditions have been so good.”
Keith Collins, Richland Parish AgCenter agent, said rice harvest in northeast Louisiana has just started with a few farmers in the fields. “I think the rice looks good up here. We’ve got potential for a good crop,” he said.
Four consecutive days of rain have held up harvest for rice. “That’s going to delay us probably until the end of the week,” Collins said.