LSU AgCenter Kicks Off Rice Producer Meetings

By Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter

CROWLEY, La. – Rice farmers heard the latest information for growing a crop from LSU AgCenter experts at the first of seven rice and soybean producer meetings on Jan. 5.

AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said a new fungicide, Amistar TOP, that would have activity against blast, sheath blight and Cercospora diseases, could be released this year.

Groth said rice diseases were not as bad as he had expected last year.

AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said an oversupply of rice and weak export demand are suppressing rice prices. All six U.S. rice-growing states increased rice production last year.

“We’re hearing Arkansas will shift some rice to soybeans,” he said. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Soybean demand remains high, and that is boosting prices, Guidry said.

AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout said rice water weevils remain the biggest rice insect pest. Dermacor seed treatment is the best control measure.

Foliar applications of a pyrethroid can be used to treat adult weevils in fields planted with untreated seed, he said.

AgCenter agronomist and extension rice specialist Dustin Harrell said the bird repellent AV-1011, which prevents blackbirds from eating planted rice seed, will be available to farmers. The material does not harm birds, but it makes rice seed inedible.

In past years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given temporary approval for the product, but last year’s conditional registration is good through 2018. Harrell said further testing has been done for a permanent registration.

Testing continues on a similar product to protect mature rice from bird damage, he said, and some of that work has been done at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted conditional approval on Jan. 3 for a chemical to control feral hogs, he said. The bait will have to be used in a special hog feeder with weighted lids to prevent feeding by other animals.

Feral hogs cause an estimated $6.8 million in losses for Louisiana rice farmers annually, according to a 2015 LSU AgCenter study that concluded hog-related crop damages totaled $74 million statewide for all crops that year. The AgCenter is testing sodium nitrite to control hogs.

AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe said the first Provisia line chosen as a potential variety has the quality trait of low chalk and the longest grain length from the LSU AgCenter breeding program.

Provisia will help farmers with problem fields. “We’ve got a lot of fields where we can’t do a good job of controlling red rice, weedy rice and volunteers,” Linscombe said.

AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster said Provisia can’t solve those problems with just one crop. Provisia will have to be used in rotation with soybeans and Clearfield rice varieties.

The new soybean technology that uses dicamba and 2,4-D requires awareness of its drift potential that could damage other crops. “I cannot caution you enough to be cautious when you put these herbicides out,” Webster said. “It will drift.”

AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said more new soybean technologies are coming.

The Enlist soybean system, with resistance to 2,4-D and glyphosate herbicides, is awaiting approval by China and the European Union, he said.

AgCenter entomologist Jeff Davis said red-banded stinkbugs, the biggest insect pest for soybeans, can be found in crimson and white clover in large numbers. Farmers who use either clover for a cover crop should keep fields mowed.

The AgCenter will conduct additional meetings for rice farmers throughout the state, including:

– Jan. 10 in Welsh at the Welsh Community Center, 101 Palmer St., at 8:15 a.m.

– Jan. 11 in Ville Platte at the Civic Center, 704 N. Soileau St., at 8 a.m.

– Jan. 12 in Abbeville at the Vermilion Parish Library, 405 E. Saint Victor St., at 8 a.m.

– Jan. 17 in Alexandria at the DeWitt Livestock Facility adjacent to the LSUA Campus, at 8:20 a.m.

– Feb. 8 in Rayville at the Civic Center, 827 Louisa St., at 9 a.m.

– Feb. 23 in Breaux Bridge at the St. Martin Parish LSU AgCenter Extension office, 114 Courthouse St., at 5 p.m.