Texas Rice Update: Rice Water Weevil, Rice Leaf Miner and Leaf Blast

    Thanks to Tropical Storm Bill, the Beaumont Center received another deluge of rain—about 6 inches in 2-3 days (June 16-18). For the months of March, April and May, the Beaumont Center received about 27 inches of precipitation—in my 32 years working in SE Texas, I cannot recall a wetter, cooler spring. So, this has been a very frustrating and challenging year for our SE Texas rice farmers and rice researchers.

    I am receiving reports from the field that rice water weevil populations and damage are greater than “normal”—whatever “normal” is. We have not had many days of drying conditions resulting in continued and persistent water saturated soil present before the “normal” period of flooding fields. Thus, rice water weevil adults are laying eggs relatively earlier in the life cycle of the rice plant and the subsequent damaging larval populations are infesting rice roots earlier than “normal”—when plants are younger and smaller. These persistent wet conditions may have had a negative effect on the efficacy of insecticidal seed treatments. My project will be able to assess this potential efficacy problem once we begin our rice water weevil core sampling which will commence next week.

    Also, I have observed some damage by South American rice leaf miner, but damage has not been bad enough to warrant treatment. This insect is a fly whose adult stage lays eggs on rice leaves. Eggs hatch and small instar larvae move down the leaf to the whorl where they mine the foliage. Often times the mines coalesce and cause the leaves to take on a ragged, tattered appearance. But remember, rice plants can tolerate a lot of defoliation—up to 20% of the foliage can be removed without significant damage to the plant.

    Of greater significance are recent reports of leaf blast on Presidio in Jackson Co. (as reported to me by Crop Consultant Glenn Crane).  Dr. Shane Zhou, our Rice Pathologist at the Beaumont Center, confirmed these reports and has sent out an alert to the Texas rice industry. Shane told me he is not surprised by the occurrence of this disease given our unusual weather patterns this spring. Please report any pest problems to scientists at the Beaumont Center—you can reach me at 409-658-2186

    Gary Bradshaw, Crop Consultant west of Houston, believes the abnormally prolonged cloudy weather this spring may have detrimental effects on photosynthesis which clearly can have negative impacts on yield—only time will tell.

    Cliff Mock, Crop Consultant south of Houston, reported recently that weeds, particularly in hybrid rice fields, have been problematic. Prolonged rainy and windy conditions have interfered with timely aerial applications of herbicides. Younger, smaller weeds are easier to control than older, larger weeds.

    Glenn Crane also reported sorghum farmers have been and are spraying for sugarcane aphid west and south of Houston. Glenn says Transform WG and Sivanto are performing well.

    Scientists at the Beaumont Center know USRPA is trying diligently to open rice markets in China. One of the sticking points is Chinese concerns about potential importation of stored product pests from the US.  Beaumont Center scientists have assured USRPA we can help address these concerns. We also remain committed to helping in any way possible to open rice markets in Cuba.

    Don’t forget about the Eagle Lake Field Day June 30 starting at 4pm. Also, the Beaumont Center Field Day will begin at 8am July 9. We welcome your attendance and suggestions for improvement! In the meantime, hang in there during these difficult and trying weather events.


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