Cheniere was on 10 percent of Arkansas’ rice acres in 2006. “Percentage-wise, that wasn’t quite as high as some of the other Delta states,” said Chuck Wilson, Arkansas Extension rice specialist, at the recent Arkansas Seed Growers meeting in Brinkley, Ark.

“I believe Mississippi’s (Cheniere acreage) was around 18 percent. Louisiana and Texas were closer to 50 percent of their acres in Cheniere. It was a pretty popular variety across the Mid-South.”

Wells continued to be a leader of the pack. Arkansas rice acreage “has been predominantly Wells for the last five years, although acreage has been easing down. It’s now on about 33 percent of the state’s acreage.”

Francis held steady at 10 or 11 percent of the acreage. “It’s a variety that works well for some farmers and has a very good fit. But it’s not for everyone because of some blast issues.”

Clearfield 131 acreage was up “to about 11 percent of the total. It took over from CL161 as the number one Clearfield rice. Add up all the Clearfield acres — along with hybrids — and they’re on close to 30 percent of the acres in Arkansas.”

With Cheniere banned through 2008 in Arkansas, what are some alternate varieties producers might consider? “My estimate is we’d have been well over 20 percent in Cheniere in 2007 had the LL situation not occurred. That’s a lot of acres that producers must find new varieties for.”

If a producer is “bound and determined to grow a semi-dwarf, the best bet is Cybonnet. The yields are comparable to Cheniere, and it has good blast and straighthead resistance. It’s a bit more susceptible to sheath blight, but it is an alternative. It also has excellent milling yield. The biggest issue, after hearing from several dealers, is possibly limited seed supply.”

Cocodrie has limited seed supply but also is an option.

Wells is “still a workhorse that fits many different environments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wells acreage goes back up again in 2007.”

Francis is best utilized on a field-by-field situation. “You’ve got to make sure you’re in low-risk fields for blast. But where it works, it yields extremely well.”

Spring and Trenasse are also options. “Trenasse is a semi-dwarf option with good yield potential. However, it does have a pretty weak disease package.”

As for medium grains, Jupiter is a new variety out of Louisiana. It has panicle blight resistance, although “not as strong as we’d originally hoped. However, its resistance a lot better than what Bengal has.

“Currently, it’s on Riceland Foods’ recommended list. They’ll buy it in 2007, but there is a stipulation because they’re still waiting to hear from Kellogg on the acceptability of that grain before making a long-term decision.”

Clearfield varieties are also appealing. Clearfield 131 and 161 are both semi-dwarfs. CL171 is a Wells cross. “To me, all three have pretty good yield potential. We don’t have much data on Clearfield 151 yet.”

The hybrids are viable options, depending on a producer’s situation.

“Clearfield hybrids — 729 and 730 — both have outstanding yields. I’ve heard some complaints from growers about lodging.

“The 723 hybrid doesn’t have the Clearfield trait and is a conventional hybrid. It has excellent yield potential, pretty good straw strength, good milling yields. Overall, in my opinion, it’s a good hybrid.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com