Louisiana: Rice Clinics Help Growers Plan for Upcoming Season

    LSU AgCenter experts met with rice farmers in south Louisiana recently (Jan. 6-10) to help them prepare for the upcoming growing season, with the start of planting only two months away.

    The rice meetings were held by the LSU AgCenter in Welsh, Bunkie, Crowley, Ville Platte and Kaplan. The final session will be Jan. 29 in Rayville for north Louisiana farmers.

    At the meetings, LSU AgCenter experts advised farmers about preparations and considerations to be made for the 2014 growing season.

    LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk told farmers an effective bird repellent, AV-1011, is being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    The material does not harm the birds and only makes the seed distasteful. It has been available through a Section 18 emergency use label that is being considered again by the EPA for the 2014 season.

    “The EPA has indicated it’s up to us,” Saichuk said.

    Farmers need to provide information to the EPA about the product’s effectiveness and how it has saved money, he said. The comments can be provided to him or county agents, and they will be forwarded to the agency.

    LSU AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell told farmers which products are available to prevent fertilizer losses, including Agrotain, Agrotain Ultra, Factor, N-Fixx and Arborite AG. All contain the compound NBPT.

    LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said a new fungicide, Convoy, will be available this year to control sheath blight.

    Recent cold weather “is probably one of the best disease controls,” Groth said.

    The cold temperatures killed much of the volunteer rice that harbors pathogens that could later cause diseases in a crop. “The pathogens will have to start from scratch rather than overwintering on volunteer rice,” he said.

    Groth said excessive nitrogen fertilizer can lead to more disease, and it can lead to more insect problems, said LSU AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout. “If you have too much nitrogen, that’s going to make the rice tastier for insects,” Stout said.

    Stem borers tend to winter in the rice stubble, Stout said. “So if you remove that stubble, you are going to be removing the overwintering stem borers.”

    LSU AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster said farmers should apply burndown herbicides six to eight weeks before planting.

    Webster advised farmers that a new system has been implemented that gives herbicides a numerical code for their modes of action. For example, he said, glyphosate-based products, including Roundup, are in Group 9. That allows users to determine when they are using different types of chemicals.

    He said this year he will be testing a new herbicide-resistant rice that uses a different mode of action from Clearfield rice.

    LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi said the 2013 U.S. rice crop at 2.48 million acres was the lowest since 1987. Louisiana’s total was 417,000 acres, about average from the past few years.

    “Across the rice states, Louisiana had the biggest increase in yield over the previous year,” Salassi said.

    Salassi said price projections indicate long-grain rice prices could drop slightly this year from the mid-$20 per barrel range, with the expectation that Arkansas will increase its rice acreage, while medium-grain rice prices will remain largely unchanged.

    Soybeans are expected to sell for roughly $11-per-bushel, he said. The South American soybean crop appears to have a good start with a record amount planted. “You want to book and sell those beans as early as possible,” he said.

    LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said at the Ville Platte meeting that earlier soybean planting usually results in better yields. Farmers planting a late crop should use a higher seeding rate.

    R.L. Frazier, LSU AgCenter county agent in Madison Parish, told farmers at the Ville Platte meeting about using the VERIS system that measures electrical soil conductivity to determine how much fertilizer is needed on specific areas of a field. The system only has to be used once unless a field is altered with practices such as laser-leveling.

    The system won’t save money, he said, “but it will make you more money in the long run.”

    LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Don Reed told farmers about different methods of controlling wild pigs.

    He said a population of feral hogs can double in four months, and sows can breed all year. Feral hogs affect sugarcane more than other crops in south Louisiana.

    Trapping is the most effective control method, he said, but only if an entire group of hogs can be caught at once. Trapping hogs one at a time only teaches other pigs to avoid traps.

    Reed said creosote-coated poles seem to be highly attractive to hogs and can be used to lure them to an area.

    LSU AgCenter engineer Randy Price talked about methods of avoiding herbicide drift.

    He said proper nozzle selection for spray rigs can minimize drift potential. The air induction nozzles tend to produce uniform-sized droplets and reduce the number of finer droplets.

    Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station, said two new Clearfield varieties have been released by the LSU AgCenter.

    A Clearfield Jazzman and a long-grain, CL271 will be available for seed and limited commercial production this year, he said.

    Linscombe said a major share of research funding has been provided by a checkoff program that assessed farmers 5 cents for every 100 pounds of rice sold. Technical challenges have been successful in the courts, resulting in the checkoff program being declared unconstitutional. But Linscombe said a voluntary program is in place to give farmers the option of continuing to participate in the program.

    Average rice yields have roughly doubled in the past 35 years, Linscombe said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that a big part of that increase is because of your checkoff dollars.”

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