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.

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