Clearfield rice lines received good reviews from four rice producers who planted about 1,400 acres of the technology in 2004. The producers discussed their experiences with Clearfield rice during the Rice Outlook Conference in New Orleans in December 2004.

Clearfield rice is tolerant to the herbicide Newpath, which controls red rice as well as a broad spectrum of grass and broadleaf weeds.

“We have about 400 acres of Clearfield rice, with about 360 acres in CL 161 and the balance in CL XL-8, said Stuttgart, Ark., consultant and rice producer Ronnie Helms, who has worked with the Clearfield system since 1998.

“In our no-till system, we run with a glyphosate/Command burndown and go back with Newpath at 4 ounces with an adjuvant. We have a spectrum of weeds that Newpath by itself won't control, so on our second preflood application, we add two to three quarts of a propanil formulation and Facet or Grandstand to Newpath.

“Studies have shown that red rice is the most competitive weed we can have in rice fields,” Helms added. “It reduces yield, milling quality, grade and land value. To be able to control it in a rice culture is very exciting.”

The reduction of red rice has a harvesting benefit as well, notes Helms. “Clean fields are so much easier to harvest than heavily-infested red rice fields. The fact that red rice will go down and lodge is as much of a problem as its competitiveness. With clean fields, our harvesting goes faster, plus there is not as much wear and tear on the combine. That's often overlooked as benefit.”

Brad Caviness, rice producer from Hazen, Ark., farmed about 1,800 acres of rice in 2004, including about 400 acres of Clearfield rice (CL 161 and Clearfield XL-8). “The system does a great job on red rice, and we like the way it works on nutgrass. Clearfield yields are adequate, but not as good as conventional.

“We've been going with three years in a row of rice, the first two conventional, then Clearfield then coming back with soybeans,” said Caviness, whose only weed control applications on Clearfield rice this year were two shots of Newpath.

Kyle Morley, a rice producer from Carlisle, Ark., raises about 800 acres of rice. “In 2003, we had 40 acres of CL161. We put out two shots of Newpath and didn't do anything else. In 2004, we increased to about 200 acres, including some on zero grade.”

That included one 86-acre field that had been flat to the ground with red rice the year before. “We came back with Clearfield on the field this year and did not see one stalk of red rice.”

Neelyville, Mo., rice producer Rick Spargo raised 1,800 acres of rice last year, including 400 acres of CL 161. “It worked on the red rice. If it allows us to be in rice production longer on the same land, it's going to make our land more valuable and allow us to get a better price for our rice because there is not as much discount from the red rice.”

Bruce Cranfill, BASF marketing manager for Clearfield rice, noted that the status of a litigation in northeast Arkansas in which Clearfield seed was illegally saved and replanted is still in the investigative stage, “to figure out exactly how many acres are involved. It's a very slow process and we should have things settled in the next several months.

“The response from growers has been very positive. Growers have told us that they're glad we took the action. And that's really the only way that you can maintain this technology for the 99 percent of the farmers who are doing the right thing.”

The penalty for illegally saving and replanting Clearfield rice seed can be up to $750 per acre, according to Cranfill. “But that's not something that BASF is going out and hammer about to growers. Stewardship is the right thing to do and we need to sustain it.”