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, August 8, 2008

Station Blog Field Harvested

The field of Catahoula rice was harvested Thursday (Aug. 7), and the yield was 43.9 barrels (or 71.1 hundredweight) per acre, according to Larry White, director of the Rice Research Station Foundation Seed Program. The rice was cut at 18.8 percent moisture, and it will take about a week to dry the crop down to 12 percent. Next step is to clean the crop at the Rice Research Station facility to be sold as foundation seed.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Zaunbrecher Field Harvested

The final figures are in for the harvest at Blue Zaunbrecher’s field Wednesday (July 30).
According to Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, the 37-acre field yielded 7,601 pounds per acre. That works out to 46.9 barrels, or 169 bushels, or 76.01 hundredweight.
If the dry-down factor is considered for 12 percent moisture, the net yield is 7,282 pounds per acre, 45 barrels, 161.8 bushels or 72.82 cwt.
Zaunbrecher, shown in the combine pictured above, said the field’s wet conditions resulted in heavy rutting in some areas, but he is flooding the field for a possible second crop.
In the photo below, Zaunbrecher’s nephew, Bryce Zaunbrecher, levels out the rice being loaded onto a truck.

Meanwhile, harvest is expected sometime around Aug. 6 for the blog field at the Rice Research Station. Larry White, director of the rice station’s foundation seed program, said field received an inch of rain Thursday.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Field Work at Rice Station

A team of roguers walked seed production fields Monday at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station to remove plants called off-types that have undesired characteristics, such as excessive height, along with any red rice plants. However, red rice plants are very rarely found on the Rice Research Station. The fields are rogued to further ensure a variety’s purity.
Larry White, manager of the station’s seed production program, worked with the roguers and he is at far left in the picture.

Visitors to Wednesday’s Rice Station Field Day can get a look at the blog field during the tours Researchers will discuss their work during the hour-long field tours that start at 7:30 a.m. The final tour will start at 9:15 a.m.

The station received 1.03 inches of rain during the weekend.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blog fields doing well

Another application of insecticide may be needed for Blue Zaunbrecher’s field to combat stinkbugs. Malathion was applied last week but a check of the field Wednesday (June 25) showed fairly high numbers of the insects.
LSU AgCenter County Agent Eddie Eskew found 40 stinkbugs in 120 sweeps with a net, and Kim Landry of the LSU AgCenter rice verification program counted 26 in 100 sweeps and Zaunbrecher came up with 44 in 100 sweeps. The minimum threshold is 30, so another insecticide application is being recommended.

Harvest is just around the corner, with a projected date of July 17 at the earliest, and Zaunbrecher said he will drain the north part of the field soon where the developing grains are in the dough stage. The developing grains on the south half of the field is in the milk stage.
For detailed explanations of milk and dough stages go to:

Eskew said some fields in Jefferson Davis Parish are already being drained, which means they could be harvested as early as July 10.

The blog field at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station is about 10 percent headed, according to Larry White, manager of the Rice Station’s Foundation Seed Program.
He said a team will be at the field Monday to rogue the field of off-types and red rice.
The field probably won’t be ready for harvest until the last week of July or the first week of August, White said.
Heavy rainfall Wednesday dumped 1.72 inches (4.4 centimeters) of rain on the station.
The annual Rice Research Station Field Day will be held next Wednesday (July 2) with field tours beginning at 7:30 a.m. If you would like a firsthand look at the Catahoula blog field and also like to learn more about rice production, please plan to attend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weather turning warmer, plant growth improving

The Zaunbrecher rice field near Lake Arthur is progressing slowly, like many rice fields in South Louisiana. But Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, is pleased with how the crop appears. With warmer temperatures the crop should begin to grow quickly.

Saichuk determined that some of the plants have a half-inch of internode elongation, shown on in the plant on the right of the picture of two dissected plants. Green ring in both plants is circled in black, and the black line shows the elongation.

Saichuk said the half-inch node is significant. “That’s when you no longer want to make 2,4-D applications.”
Saichuk said the plants will start using more and more water, and he advised Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher to pump up the level.
“This is when rice can use as much as an inch of water a day,” he said.
Saichuk estimates that the rice plants will reach boot stage on June 10, and harvest will be the last week in July.
He said weekly visits to the Zaunbrecher field will focus on scouting for diseases and stinkbugs.
The Rice Research Station field of Catahoula variety is progressing nicely. Thin spots are slowly beginning to disappear as this is the growth stage where maximum tillering (stooling) occurs. The plants are nearing the panicle initiation growth stage which is when the plants begin to shift from vegetative to reproductive growth stages.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lots of rain

Rice fields across South Louisiana are draining excess water after Thursday morning’s heavy downpour. Young rice plants in the blog field at the Rice Research Station were underwater after getting 4.25 inches of rainfall. Larry White, manager of the Rice Research Station’s foundation seed program, had to make levee repairs and drain off excess water.
Meanwhile, at the blog field grown by Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher of Lake Arthur, a little more than 3 inches fell. Zaunbrecher said he will have 2,4-D sprayed on the field to combat alligator weed.
Cool temperatures are expected tonight and Saturday, with a steady warm-up expected and no forecast of rain possibilities until late next week.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Four herbicides were sprayed Wednesday morning onto the rice crop on the blog field at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.
Dr. Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, said the compounds mixed together included Arrosolo for grasses including sprangletop, Prowl for its residual action on grasses, Londax for broadleaf weeds and sedges, and Permit to fight sedges and residual effects on broadleaf weeds. The yellow coloring from the plume of spray is from Prowl.
Larry White, manager of the Rice Research Station’s seed program said that urea fertilizer will be applied by airplane Thursday morning at the rate of 200 pounds per acre (this will be 92 lb of actual nitrogen per acre) then the permanent flood will be pumped onto the field.
Meanwhile at the Zaunbrecher field near Lake Arthur, Dr. John Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said the crop looks good, but it is growing slowly because of recent cool temperatures.
“It looks good, but it’s just moving slowly.”
Saichuk said green ring stage had been predicted for May 18-20, but now he thinks that will be pushed back by a few days because of the slow growth rate.
Saichuk said farmer Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher will pump some water onto the field to bring up the water level. The week’s rainfall total was a quarter inch, or .7 of a centimeter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LSU AgCenter Master Farmer Program Includes the Rice Station Blog Field

Not only is the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station blog field being monitored with a webcam a monitoring station takes samples of any water that runs off the field as part of the LSU AgCenter Master Farmer program.
After every rainfall event, Dr. Ernest Girouard of the Master Farmer program, collects samples from monitoring stations at fields across Southwest Louisiana, including the one on the blog field. The photo above shows Girouard preparing the solar-powered monitoring station to collect water samples for the next rain event. To the left is the smaller bottle of collected runoff water that is being analyzed by an LSU AgCenter laboratory in Baton Rouge to determine levels of suspended and dissolved solids, nitrates, chlorides, bromides, sulfates, phosphorous and biological oxygen demand.
The Master Farmer program has been widely accepted by the rice industry with the majority of participants growing rice. It is a great testament to the Louisiana rice growers and their appreciation for natural resources.
Rainfall at the station during the past weekend totaled .69 of an inch, or 1.75 centimeters.
The monitoring stations automatically take water samples when a flow meter senses that water is draining from the field.
The analysis of the irrigation water and water discharged for the parameters listed under monitoring for best management practices will provide valuable information of what is leaving the field after nutrients are applied and what is needed by the rice plant to obtain optimum economic yields.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Catahoula variety seed production

The blog field at the Rice Research Station is a foundation seed field for a new long-grain variety, Catahoula, previously known by its number LA2082 when it was under development.

A research plot of the line LA2082 released late last year as the variety Catahoula.

The variety was developed by Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station.
This year’s Catahoula is for foundation seed production, and it will be available next year to plant to produce registered seed. The station produced enough seed for the variety to be grown on over 1,500 acres by seed growers this year. The variety will be available in 2010 for commercial production.
Linscombe said the variety is superior to the varieties Cocodrie and Cheniere in terms of yield and quality. Because the old Arkansas variety, Drew, is one of its parents, Catahoula has good blast disease resistance, Linscombe said.
“We think the variety is going to be a good fit for us,” he said.
The blog field received three-quarters of an inch (2 centimeters) of rain in the past 24 hours.
Larry White, in charge of the Rice Research Station's seed production, said the field will be sprayed with herbicides, fertilized and flooded within the next week.

Rice bounces back at Zaunbrecher farm

Eddie Eskew walks the field to examine the crop's condition.

“That’s a good field of rice,” remarked Eddie Eskew, LSU AgCenter county agent in Jefferson Davis Parish, as he gazed out on Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher’s field near Lake Arthur.
A week ago, the rice looked limp and pitiful after a cold snap. Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, was prepared to recommend another shot of zinc if the weather didn’t warm up.
But Saichuk was pleased with the rice’s recovery. Most of the leaves were upright, and the plants looked much greener. And new leaves appeared to be wider and more robust than the spindly leaves floating on the water.

Comparison of new leaf at the top of the photo and the older, less healthy leaf.

Saichuk said the rice is about to start tillering, and he was pleased that no signs of rice water weevils could be found.
For Zaunbrecher, the field’s improved condition is a huge relief, even though he admits he knows a struggling rice crop usually will bounce back and make a good crop.
“This is the hardest time for a farmer, the first 6 weeks, to make it come through the water,” he said.
The rain gauge showed 1.38 inches since last week. Zaunbrecher said a thunderstorm with hard rain and hail passed over his house early Wednesday morning.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Young rice struggling

Good news and bad news at the Zaunbrecher field after a walk through the field Wednesday.
The herbicide used for the Juncus has soundly knocked the weed down. “That’s the best job on Juncus I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist. In the photo below, the dead Juncus can be seen at the base of a rice plant.

But he was concerned that the rice is looking feeble and much of it is laying on the surface of the water.
He said it’s likely that the cold temperatures during the past few nights have induced the problem.
“We need some warm weather,” Saichuk said.
Young spindly rice plants are susceptible to being knocked down by wind, he said, but the field is handicapped by low zinc levels.
In the photo, you can see the lazy rice plants.

By the weekend, temperatures are expected to climb back into the 80s.
“If that doesn’t perk it up, we’ll add another gallon of zinc per acre,” he said.
That same rate of zinc was used when the herbicide flown onto the field only a week after it was planted.

Meanwhile, back at the Rice Research Station, Larry White has pumped water onto the 21.25-acre seed production field to flush it. The field was fertilized Tuesday by air with 8-24-24 at the rate of 250 pounds an acre on Monday. The red chunks on the ground shown in the photo below are particles of fertilizer before the field was flushed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Herbicides working on Zaunbrecher field

Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, stopped by the Zaunbrecher field this morning and he liked what he saw.

"The herbicides appear to be working on the Juncus," he reported.

He had been uncertain whether applying an ounce of Permit per acre would work but he said it appears that the weed has been knocked down by the compound. The mixture included a half ounce of Londax and a gallon of zinc per acre, with crop oil added at the rate of 1 gallon per 100 gallons of liquid.

A permanent flood of 3-4 inches has been pumped onto the field. "We have no intention of letting the water out until just before harvest."

Saichuk said he has recommended application of an insecticide, such as Mustang Max or Karate, to address rice water weevils before the pests get out of hand. He said scarring was found on the 2-leaf rice and some pairs of the insects were found.

Saichuk said he is somewhat concerned that the cool weather expected this weekend could retard growth of the young crop.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Flushing the Station Field/Guests Take a Look

Larry White, manager of the Foundation Seed Program at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, has turned the water on the station field for a flushing of water intended to soak the soil to provide moisture to seedlings and encourage germination of seed yet to sprout.
White said Thursday when the flush is complete, he will allow the seedlings to grow approximately a week before applying fertilizer. At the top of the picture above, water flows out of a riser, then flows out of the field through a plastic curtain designed to prevent the water movement from eroding a levee.

Thursday morning, visitors stopped by the station blog field. Members of the 2008 USA Rice Leadership Class visited the station and Dr. Steven Linscombe, station director, gave them an overview of the station and he provided a tour of the facilities. They heard Drs. Herry Utomo and Ida Wenefrida discuss the role of genetic markers in the breeding program, then stopped at several fields on the station to see work in progress, including the blog field. Dr. Carrie Castille, a Leadership class member and director of the LSU AgCenter Master Farmer program, explained how runoff water from selected fields is being studied to help producers adopt best management practices.

The class making the stop at the station blog field is shown in the picture above. From left to right are Michael Fruge of Pearland, Texas; Kirk Meins of Stuttgart, Ark.; Castille; Blake Gerard of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Sean Doherty of College City, Calif.; Dan Hosman of Jonesboro, Ark.; Chuck Wilson, director of the Rice Foundation who oversees the leadership classes; Linscombe; and Buddy Allen of Tunica, Miss.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rice Has Emerged on the Zaunbrecher Field

Rice plants emerged during the weekend at the Zaunbrecher field near Lake Arthur.
The farmer, Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher of Lake Arthur, said the rice seedlings responded to the warmer weather.
Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said the rice is at the 1-leaf stage and he estimated emergence occurred Saturday (March 29). Shown above is a view of the rice plants.

Weeds are dominating some areas of the 39-acre field.
Saichuk walked the field April 2 with Zaunbrecher and they identified several weeds that could cause problems. The worst Saichuk found was Juncus. In the picture below, Saichuk, on the right, and farmer Ronnie "Blue" Zaunbrecher walk through the field with the heaviest concentration of the waxy-leaf weed.

“We knew it was here and we knew we didn’t get it with the burndown,” Saichuk said.
He also found starworts, sedges, alligator weed and water primrose.
“We need to get the flood on the field before we have a red rice problem,” Saichuk said.
Zaunbrecher said the field has been used for crawfish, so the aquatic weed problem is to be expected. “Compared to what it used to be, this is clean.”
Saichuk prescribed an ounce of Permit per acre for the Juncus, and a half ounce of Londax for the other weeds, in addition to a gallon of zinc per acre and a 1 percent concentration of crop oil, 200 pounds of urea and 40 pounds of potash.
After all that material is applied by airplane, the field will be flooded.

Below is a picture of a King snake found during Saichuk's weekly walking inspection of the field.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spraying for Weeds

Now that the Rice Research Station field has been planted, Larry White took the initiative against weed pressure Wednesday morning with a ground rig. He sprayed a tank-mixed combination that included Honcho Plus for grasses, Permit for sedges and Command to attack weeds before they emerge from the ground. Uncontrolled weeds can detract from a crop’s yield by as much as 70 percent, by robbing plants of valuable nutrients and sunlight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rice Research Station Field Planted

The blog field at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station was planted Tuesday morning. Larry White, manager of the Rice Station foundation seed program, said the new Catahoula variety was drill seeded at the rate of 42 pounds an acre at a depth of approximately three quarters of an inch.
“There was a little frost in the low spots this morning,” according to White.
But by this weekend, temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s at night and the mid-80s, ideal conditions for rice to germinate.
White said he’ll flush the field next week.
In the photo, the rows can be seen to the right of the tractor where the seed was planted. In the background on the left is a small planter used for research plots.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Zaunbrecher Field is Planted

With good, warm weather, rice farmers are jumping at the chance to start planting.
On Wednesday, Lake Arthur farmer Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher had seed flown onto the flooded 39-acre field featured in the blog. The field is in this year’s LSU AgCenter Verification Program.
The seeding rate was 120 pounds per acre of the Cheniere variety.
The above photo shows seed falling from the airplane.
Below is a shot of the seed as it hits the water.
Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist in charge of the verification program, recommended that Zaunbrecher not drain the field until Friday. The seed had been soaked to hasten germination, but Saichuk said the seed did not appear to be adequately pipped, or sprouting enough to allow immediate draining after planting. “I think it needs to sit there for 24 hours, then turn the water loose.”
He said the flood will protect the seed from tonight’s cold temperatures in the 40s.
By draining the field, the seed will sprout into the mud and make it less likely to be moved later when the field is reflooded.
Saichuk said reflooding can be done in 4-5 days, and herbicides and fertilizer applied in the next 10 days.
Meanwhile back at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, the 21.25-acre field may be planted within the week if the soil gets dry. Larry White, manager of the Rice Research Station’s foundation seed program, said the field is too wet for drill seeding.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Ready to Plant the 2008 Rice Crop

As the days get warmer, rice farmers are eager to start planting.
Ronnie “Blue” Zaunbrecher of Lake Arthur , pictured above, expects to start in the next few days. One of the fields he will plant will be one of 2 featured in this year’s rice farming blog. The other field is located at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.
The blog will follow Zaunbrecher’s 39-acre field that is in this year’s LSU AgCenter verification program under the supervision of Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist.
Zaunbrecher is a fifth generation farmer. His forefathers started in the Mowata area, then some of the family settled in Gueydan and later Lake Arthur.
Zaunbrecher, 38, has been farming since 1996. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from McNeese and a master’s degree in agriculture at LSU where he studied sugarcane breeding. He was attending Texas A&M to get a doctorate degree in cotton breeding when he decided to return to Louisiana and start farming.
“This will be crop No. 13,” Zaunbrecher said.
He’s never seen rice prices this high, topping $30 a barrel on the futures market, but he knows firsthand that expenses are higher than ever for fuel, fertilizer and chemicals such as glyphosate.
Zaunbrecher will water seed the verification field with Cheniere at the rate of 120 pounds per acre. He said he favors Cheniere because of its high-yielding advantage, possibly 4 to 5 bushels more per acre.
He currently has a 6-inch flood on the field, made up of three cuts. It was fallow last year, and he applied glyphosate last month to burn off vegetation. Zaunbrecher said the best the field has yielded was 48 barrels when it was planted in Wells a few years ago.
“That was a year it just grew and grew, and never stopped.”
Between him and his two brothers, Randall and Russell Zaunbrecher, they will plant roughly 2,200 acres of rice. They also hope to plant soybeans, with the acreage depending on seed availability.

In addition to Zaunbrecher’s field, a 21.25-acre field at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station will be followed this year, and the webcam will be focused on it so you can check on the crop’s progress.
Larry White, manager of the Rice Research Station’s seed program, said the field will be drill-seeded with Catahoula, a long-grain variety released by the LSU AgCenter last year.
White said the field will be planted “as soon as it dries up,” which could be in a week.
You can see the field now at