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, 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

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