Greetings from Louisiana rice country! This year, the blog will concentrate research conducted at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, in addition to showing the progress of a 6-acre field of rice planted March 19 to produce foundation seed. We encourage your comments and thoughts to help improve this online tool. If you would like a photograph of a particular piece of equipment or a better explanation of a process, let us know.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rain, more possible today.

The Rice Station recorded 1.9 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, and more is expected today. The picture above was taken Wednesday afternoon between storms. More rain is predicted for today. Rice farmers who haven't flooded their fields yet, the rain will save on the costs of pumping, but for farmers whose fields were flooded, the rain is of little consequence.
For farmers in Southwest Louisiana who planted soybeans in rotation with their rice, heavy rainfall now is not welcome.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rice crop in transition

The rice crop in the blog field has entered a critical stage, according to Dr. Richard Dunand, LSU AgCenter plant physiologist at the Rice Research Station.
After dissecting a plant, in the photo at left, he concluded that the crop has probably grown beyond the vegetative stage and entered the early phase of the reproductive stage. Dunand said the plants within the next week should reach panicle differentiation when the developing panicle, where the rice kernels will develop, can be found inside the plant with the unaided eye.
The initial stage of the reproductive phase is green ring, distinguished by a distinct green ring around the first white node of the plant just above the root structure, but Dunand concluded that the crop has moved beyond that stage.
Determining the reproductive stage is important for three reasons.
First, Dunand explained, it’s around this point that nitrogen fertilizer has its last chance to be effective. (The field received a top-dressing of fertilizer, as detailed in the previous entry.)\
Second, by this time, fields that were drained to control rice water weevils, and to reduce straighthead, a condition that results in panicles developing with little or no grain, should be reflooded.
And third, as the reproductive stage progresses, the window starts closing on the opportunity to spray 2,4-D herbicide.
As a plant enters the reproductive stage, it tends to curtail tillering, Dunand said.
And a field that has been seeded at a low rate as this one has at 42 pounds an acre, tends to compensate for the low plant population by remaining in the vegetative stage longer and tillering more than a field planted at a higher seeding rate.
Shown to the right is a dissected plant. The tip of the knife is pointing at the area where the panicle will develop.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Aerial application of urea fertilizer (125 pounds per acre of 45 percent nitrogen) came a little earlier than expected today. It was supposed to be made at 10 a.m., but it was moved up an hour earlier. In the top photo, pilot Dennis Vega loads the fertilizer into his airplane at a nearby airstrip before making several passes over the field.
Larry White, manager of the seed program at the Rice Station, is hoping it will rain today to help flood the field and to allow the fertilizer to permeate the soil so it can be absorbed by the plants. Rain is predicted, and any moisture would mean less water that would have to be pumped to flood the field, but as of noon today, only .02 inches of rain had fallen in the past 24 hours.

Different wings were also flying over the field earlier. At right is a heron in midflight over a levee. (Click on the picture to get a bigger image and you can see a killdeer on the levee.) Thousands of insects similar to mayflies were also buzzing in the air over the field.

Monday, May 21, 2007


All the water is off the field, and as you can see in the photos, the ground is starting to crack open. More water will be pumped onto the field this week, and another application of fertilizer is expected to be made Wednesday around 10 a.m. Set your clock to remind you to use our webcam to watch the airplane drop nitrogen on the field.
(Note: The top photograph, taken at a low angle between rows of drill-seeded rice, shows the tower at the Rice Station dryer complex. It was from the top of this tower that the two pictures of the airplane applying fertilizer were taken on April 19.)

Friday, May 18, 2007


MAY 16
The field was drained and the soil will be allowed to dry to the point of cracking to allow aeration of the root zone. This is a cultural practice to control the physiological disorder called straighthead. This disorder is often of a greater potential in fields that have not been planted to rice for several years. Since this field has been out of production for 9 years, this draining and drying is being done as a precaution.


You will be able to watch rice grow with a webcam installed at the rice station. It is aimed at the field being followed in this web log.

You can view the field with real-time still pictures by going to the website,

To the right , Davis Dautreuil, LSU AgCenter regional technical support specialist, installs the camera.

Nitrogen fertilizer was applied by air to the field at the rate of 200 pounds per acre, then the permanent flood was applied. You can see the white granules of fertilizer in the picture below. Larry White said the flood will be maintained until the decision is made to drain the field to prevent straighthead.

Three herbicides were sprayed at once in an aerial application. The herbicides, Prowl, Permit and Arrosolo, were recommended by LSU AgCenter weed specialist Dr. Eric Webster. Larry White said the same combination used on fields at the station last year worked well. Webster recommended Prowl for its residual action on grasses and small-seed broadleaf weeds, Arrosolo for grasses such as barnyard grass and broadleaf weeds, and Permit for nut sedge.

Fertilizer was applied by airplane today at the rate of 250 pounds per acre. The fertilizer was 8-24-24 made up of 8 pounds of nitrogen, 24 pounds of phosphorous (P205) and 24 pounds of potassium (K20) in each 100 pounds.

Preparing an airplane for the planting season often requires making sure the equipment is properly adjusted. The LSU AgCenter has a program to test airplanes before they take to the fields to make sure material is being distributed across a field in an even pattern. Pictured below is the test procedure being used for an airplane at the LeGros Airport near Estherwood on March 30.

Rice plants on the field appear to be recovering from the cold. Here, a plant has a healthy, green leaf that will replace the previous growth damaged by cold weather during the Easter weekend.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen sleet in South Louisiana. But who would have expected frozen precipitation in April? But that’s exactly what happened April 7. Fortunately, the temperatures didn’t get low enough to result in frost.
As expected after passage of a strong cold front, the south wind that came by April 13 was intense. Larry White, manager of the seed program at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, said the cold and wind combined had a definite impact on the young rice plants.
Here’s a rice plant from the field being monitored in this blog.

Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said young rice plants can be protected from a frost or freeze with an insulating layer of water.
Saichuk additionally shared his thoughts on the impacts of the cold in his weekly field notes:

Will the yellowed plants affect the harvest with lower yields? “That’s a long time from now,” Larry White said.
He said the DD50 computer program for projecting a rice crop’s timetable indicates that this field should be harvested by July 23, about a week sooner than most harvests at the station. But the earlier planting moved the harvest back.

To direct water into each section of the field, plastic sheeting – called curtains – are used to prevent the moving water from eroding the levees. Here, a station crew installs a curtain. The top photo shows a series of curtains.

Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, has installed a flow meter at the field to monitor how much water is used. Shown here is the monitor gauge that indicates the flow of water in gallons per minute. The gauge shows a flow between 500 and 600 gpm.


March 20:
Rice seed was sown into a stale seedbed with a drill similar to the one being used in the picture above. The variety planted was Cocodrie, developed and released from the Rice Research Station in 1998. It has been grown on more acres than any other single variety in U.S. rice production over the past 10 years.
Before planting the field had been sprayed on Feb. 12 with herbicides that included 2,4-D and glyphosate.
The laser-leveled field is divided into five sections, or cuts, using four levees.
The rice sprouts emerged March 27, a week after planting.