Rice farmers attending a Horizon Ag field day near Eunice, La., this summer thought they were seeing some good rice in the plots of Horizon Ag's Clearfield 151, 131, 161, 171-AR and 111 varieties. They just didn't know how good.

One of the fields on the Bobby Soileau Farm near Eunice averaged 59.6 barrels or 214.7 bushels per acre when harvested on Aug. 3. That cut was planted to Clearfield 111, the new very early variety developed by the LSU AgCenter.

The other varieties weren't harvested until a week later, and yields were not separated. But other fields of Clearfield 151 and 111 in the area produced high yields. (A Clearfield 151 field at Lake Arthur, La., averaged 60 barrels or 216 bushels per acre, while another in Gueydan, La., cut 57 barrels or 205.2 bushels per acre.)

“The 32-acre CL 111 plot on the Soileau Farm cut 59.4 barrels per acre, indicating very good yield potential for this new variety on large fields,” said Michael Fruge, Horizon Ag district sales manager. “Another bright spot for us is CL 151, which was planted on large acres by farmers in Louisiana and other states. It has demonstrated the potential to yield with hybrids, cutting 50 to 55 barrels in the Eunice area. We're receiving reports from other farmers, including one from Crowley who harvested 61.4 barrels with CL 151.”

Like many other areas in the southern Rice Belt, 2009 proved to be a challenge for farmers in the Eunice area. The fields on the Soileau Farm were planted around Easter Sunday (April 9). Rains began falling soon after and continued until early June.

“The pilot was flying on the nitrogen to the Clearfield 111 when he got rained out,” said Fruge, who spoke at the field day on July 2. “So we decided to split the nitrogen application on the Clearfield 111 and wound up with about 125 pounds of N in separate applications on this field.”

Fruge said Clearfield 111 lived up to its billing of being a very early variety. “Steve Linscombe says that Clearfield 111 was heading out five days ahead of Clearfield 151 in his trials at the Rice Research Station and that you'll pick up another two days of maturity between then and harvest.”

That earliness could be a blessing to farmers in southwest Louisiana and east Texas who often try to grow a ratoon crop after their initial harvest in August with the second harvest coming in the fall.

“We don't think we've had a good, area-wide ratoon crop since 2003,” he said. “This new variety could be very helpful to our farmers in that respect.”

Clearfield 151, which is in its first year of release, may be unique in that it appears to be raising eyebrows not only in south Louisiana and the Texas Rice Belt, but also in Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel.

More than 100 farmers, consultants and retailers were introduced to Clearfield 151 and to Horizon Ag's 2010 lineup of Clearfield rice varieties during a field day at Tanner Seed Farm in Bernie, Mo.

Horizon Ag is planning to offer two new Clearfield lines developed by rice breeders from the University of Arkansas along with two new lines from the LSU AgCenter rice breeding program directed by Linscombe, director of the LSU Extension Service in Southwest Louisiana.

“Our product line is expanding to include eight proven, high-performing Clearfield varieties bred to meet the needs of rice farmers across the Mid-South and Gulf Coast rice markets,” said Randy Ouzts, Horizon Ag's general manager.

“The lineup is anchored by CL151, which is proving its high yield potential with strong performances on commercial farms this season. CL151 yield reports from Louisiana and Texas are ranging from 187 bushels to 242 bushels per acre, and there are many fields in Arkansas and Southeast Missouri planted to CL151 yet to be harvested.

“CL151 is demonstrating its ability to yield with hybrids while offering considerably better milling and grain quality. We expect this variety to be in great demand in 2010 and substantial seed stocks will be available.”

Joining CL151, CL131, CL161 and CL171-AR are two new varieties from Karen Moldenhauer's program at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Rice Research and Extension Center.

Both CL142-AR and CL181-AR will have limited commercial availability in 2010. CL142-AR is similar to Francis in height and has shown excellent vigor and tillering. It offers outstanding yield potential and has a large-sized kernel, which is ideal for parboiling market, said Moldenhauer.

CL181-AR, on the other hand, is a semi-dwarf plant comparable to CL131 in height. It, too, has shown very good vigor, outstanding yield potential and excellent milling and grain quality.

“Early indications show CL181-AR having a very good disease package,” she said. “Both of these varieties should fit the Arkansas and Missouri rice markets very well, offering high yield and excellent grain quality. CL142-AR rates moderately susceptible to sheath blight and susceptible to rice blast, but like Wells blast should be able to be controlled with a deep flood.”

Besides Clearfield 111, Horizon Ag also plans to offer the LSU AgCenter's CL261, Horizon Ag's first medium-grain Clearfield variety.

Initial evaluations indicate CL 261 has a disease package similar to Bengal and having a yield potential similar to CL151. Horizon Ag is working with mills and food companies such as Kellogg's to obtain grain acceptance for this variety prior to a full launch in 2011.

“Grain quality appears to be very good on this variety and industry acceptance by downstream users is expected. CL261 will be available in limited commercial quantities in 2010, with a full launch planned in 2011,” said Jennifer Wells, technology manager for Horizon Ag.

For more information on the Clearfield varieties, go to www.horizonseed.com and see “Latest News.”