The Texas Rice Crop Survey reports, that as of March 29, about 20% of Texas rice was planted. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s raining again today. I was able to get two of my experiments planted before rain moved in.
One of the experiments involves seed treatments with the bird repellent anthraquinone. We are evaluating efficacy of different rates of AV-1011 and AV-5055. There is a possibility that these seed treatments may have a stimulatory effect on early rice growth and establishment, so we are also sampling plots for rice stand density and seedling growth. Results of the experiment will be made available at the conclusion of this field season.
We also will evaluate anthraquinone applied to heading rice later in the season. Last year, this bird repellent looked promising to keep blackbirds from feeding on ratoon rice in Calhoun County. Arkion Life Sciences, makers of AV products, is in the process of trying to obtain a label for heading rice.
On an insect-related issue, I routinely answer questions about insect identification and biology from homeowners, farmers and other stakeholders. Many of these insects are not associated with rice, but are commonly found in Southeast Texas. A couple days ago, employees at a nearby rice mill sent me a photo of a moth they found in their grading room. The insect is the Tersa Sphinx Moth. It probably just emerged from the soil where it overwintered in the pupal stage and flew inside the room where it was warmer and maybe attracted to light. The larvae feed on catalpa leaves, so there was likely a nearby catalpa tree. The adult is large and has a long proboscis which it uses to suck up nectar from flowers. Sometimes Sphinx Moths are mistaken for hummingbirds! A very common Sphinx Moth is the Tomato Horn Worm whose larval stage feeds on tomatoes. I’m sure you have observed this large caterpillar, which blends in with tomato foliage, in your garden.
Ok, back to the oars…got to get ready for my project’s next round of plantings!