Rice farmers heard from LSU AgCenter experts on July 17 talking about their research and the 2014 rice crop.
Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said the crop is doing well, but he doubts it will be as good as last year’s. “You may never see a year like that one again,” he said.
He said the crop is two weeks behind normal growth because of a delay in good planting conditions, but it has improved. Many fields of rice appear to have an uneven look, he said.
Overall, he said, insect and disease problems have not been severe, and farmers are doing a better job of keeping weeds out of their fields.
Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said his breeding work considers grain quality as a key factor in developing new varieties. He said Central American buyers have been buying CL152, developed at the AgCenter Rice Research Station, because of its good grain quality.
Don Groth, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said high nitrogen rates can trigger diseases. He said farmers should vary the types of fungicides to prevent development of fungicide-resistant disease. If a fungicide is needed, he said, the time of day for an application doesn’t seem to matter.
“You just want to avoid a rain,” he said, explaining a fungicide needs two to four hours of drying before it will not be affected by rainfall.
Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, said nutrients have to be replenished because a rice crop removes potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc.
He said the best time for a fertilizer application is at planting. Waiting until before flooding can reduce yield by 12 percent, he said. Yield will be reduced by a third if the first fertilizer application is not made until mid-tillering.
Half a crop yield will be lost if the fertilizer is not applied until heading, he said.
Sebe Brown, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said pressure from rice water weevils and stink bugs has been light this year, but some farmers have had severe problems with armyworms.
Brown said spraying for stink bugs should be based on scouting in the middle of a field. The threshold during the first two weeks of heading is 30 insects out of 100 sweeps with a sweep net, he said, and 100 insects from 100 sweeps for the second two weeks of heading.
Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor, said much of the research conducted in north Louisiana could not be done without farmers agreeing to pay checkoff funds, a small portion of their sales, for research. “I can assure you if we had lost those funds, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
He said state legislation was passed this year to correct legal defects in the checkoff system as a result of a lawsuit. In the meantime many farmers voluntarily continued to pay checkoff money. “I want to thank the rice industry for standing up,” he said.
Linscombe echoed Leonard’s comments and said off-station trials of experimental rice lines depend heavily on the checkoff funds.