My telephone load normally begins to wind down about the middle of July. This year I have the feeling it will stay active for several more weeks. Much of the rice crop is a month behind in some areas of Arkansas and the soybean crop in general has a long way to go. A lot of areas in the state got a desperately needed July 4 rain.

This has been the most difficult year for farmers to get things done that I can remember. We went through a prolonged wet period that delayed planting of all crops a month or more in some areas.

That was followed by a prolonged windy period when a lot of herbicide treatments were delayed for two or more weeks because they couldn’t be sprayed. That was followed by a prolonged dry period that made planting much of the soybean crop very frustrating. Hopefully things will straighten up and we can make a crop.

Much of the earlier planted rice has straightened out and is beginning to look like a rice crop. Perhaps it is just the type of year we have had, but I have seen a lot of situations in the field that were impossible to explain.

The older I get, the more I either forget or find out I did not know. It is frustrating to go into a field for a farmer who holds you in high esteem and feel like an idiot because you can’t figure out for sure what is going on.

I have been in several either where I called in university counterparts who in turn called in more university counterparts, or they called me after they had been there first and nobody knew for sure what was going on. The more situations I look at, the more I realize there are a lot of interactions going on between salt, pH, herbicides and other factors that we simply do not understand.

I am starting to get the calls that I have been dreading. Those are the ones on the Clearfield hybrids where the red rice has blown out the top and the rice is past the panicle initiation cutoff for Beyond. This situation forces the consultant and farmer to have to make a decision to either spray and run the risk of injury and yield reduction on the rice or not spray and run the risk of out-crossing, resulting in resistant red rice. Neither of these is a good option.

When you get out-crossing between red rice and a hybrid, the uniform F1 population that you would get when a Clearfield variety and red rice crosses is bypassed and the result is a segregating population the first generation.

I believe this is a serious threat to the Clearfield technology. The Clearfield hybrids simply need more Newpath and Beyond tolerance.

I recently looked at three fields that I believe have a full-blown segregating resistant red rice population. I hope I turn out to be wrong, but I do not think I am. None of these fields had hybrids grown in them previously, but they had a history of continuous Clearfield rice.

Based upon what we observed in my wife Tomilea’s Ph.D. research, I cannot believe we have not seen a lot more of this. These fields are like a lot of fields in Arkansas that do not grow soybeans well and have been in continuous rice. Once the Clearfield technology blows up in these situations, good options are few and far between.

A lot of farmers have taken the approach that “every year I can get out of the technology is one I did not have.” I never criticize farmer decisions, but this may be short-sighted. Industry as a whole has done little more than give lip service to Clearfield stewardship.

Previous experience with resistant weed populations indicates once you start seeing a resistant weed in a few fields, it is only a matter of a couple of years before the problem explodes.

I see the LibertyLink rice lawsuits continue to grind along. I have said before and will say again, if what in these fields turns out to be what I am confident it is, it will only be a matter of time before farmers are begging for an alternate technology for Clearfield rice.

e-mail: ford@weedconsultants.com