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.

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.