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.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Grain continues to mature

The aim of draining of the field is to get the water removed to allow the ground to dry so harvesting equipment can get to the crop. If farmers have to harvest in a muddy field, the ground gets rutted from the equipment sinking in the mud and that creates problems for a second crop of rice. It could cause more work for next year’s crop also, with additional field preparation.
Dr. Richard Dunand, LSU AgCenter plant physiologist, said the drained field also will allow the grain moisture to decrease, but the weather must cooperate with little to no rain. He estimates harvest is about 2 weeks away.

Dunand estimated that grain moisture is roughly 30 percent, about 10-12 percent more than farmers want for harvest. Since the rice from this field will be sold as seed, it may be allowed to dry to less than 18 percent grain moisture before harvest. He said rice grains lose about a half to 1 percent of their moisture per day under dry conditions. “As long as we have cloudy weather, that process will be slowed,” he said.
In the photo below, normal rice grains that are mature, as indicated by their golden color, are mixed on the same panicle with green hulls that indicate maturity is not complete for those grains.

In this picture, purple rice hulls indicate grains failed to develop, possibly because of interference with the pollination process. Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, referred to this condition in his July 10 installment of Field Notes.

Some grains are blank because of damage from an insect called a stem borer. The picture below shows that the panicles never developed. On the right is the stem cut from the same stalk that shows where a stem borer insect invaded the plant.

Stink bugs will continue to feed on developing grain. Here a stink bug is poised to feed on a grain in the milk stage or dough stage, but the insect’s mouth part, called a proboscis, is not piercing the grain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Larry White

This is the man behind the blog field, Larry White, manager of the seed program at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.
Farming came naturally for White.
“I grew up on a farm next to my grandfather’s house,” he said.
White graduated from LSU in 1978 with a degree in agriculture business. For a couple of years, he farmed with his grandfather, Elzy Faulk, and uncle Johnny Faulk near Crowley.
Then a job as research associate opened at the Rice Station to work with Dr. Earl Sonnier. After Sonnier retired, White transferred to his current job.
“I do everything from planting it, harvesting it, drying it, cleaning it and selling it,” White said.
In December, White starts selling foundation seed to seed growers.
Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Research Station, said White’s work is valuable to rice growers.
"Larry’s hard work, perseverance and dedication have made the Rice Research Station's Foundation Seed Program an outstanding asset to the rice industry,” Linscombe said. “He is dedicated to achieving the highest level of quality and purity for all seed produced from his efforts. He is also always willing to lend a helping hand to all other research projects on the station."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Drain the field for harvest

Water started flowing through the field Monday morning as the gates were opened to release water in preparation for harvest in about 2 weeks. Below, water from the field enters a drainage ditch at the Rice Research Station.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rice crop maturing

The blog field continues to mature as grain filling is underway. Harvest is only 3 weeks away.

Much of the crop is in the milk stage, as shown in the picture to the left. A milk-like liquid is in the hulls. This is a prime growth stage for stink bugs to use their piercing mouth parts to penetrate the hull and feed on the developing kernels. In this field, an application of Mustang Max has been made to control the insects.

Within a few days, the starchy liquid becomes solidified, reaching the dough stage when the grain is soft and pasty, as shown in this picture.

Here are two panicles. The one on the left is still in the milk stage. The panicle on the right has started to droop from the weight of the solidifying grain that has entered the dough stage.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Pollination is underway in the blog field.

After heading, pollination begins near the top end of the panicle and progresses downward. Pollination of all of the florets on an individual panicle requires about 3 days. During this time the florets are susceptible to rough weather like we've been having lately. (It rained more than an inch at the station yesterday in just a few minutes.) Strong winds and heavy rain usually associated with thunderstorms at this time can cause inadequate pollination. The resulting florets will be empty, producing no grain. If this condition is significant, grain yield can be reduced.

In this photo, pollination has occurred, and the rice hull is closing and the anthers remain exposed.
Florets open to allow pollination generally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This can vary depending on environmental conditions mostly associated with temperature and humidity. Under cloudy, cool, calm or humid conditions, the time for pollination may shift later by as much as an hour or so.

After pollination, grain filling begins. So, when pollination is noted it is time to think about checking for stink bugs and considering the insecticide programs that are available for stinkbug control.