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.

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