Work continues on the development of a Clearfield medium-grain rice variety, but an unexpected challenge has delayed the process, an LSU AgCenter rice breeder said at the recent Northeast Louisiana Rice Field Day in Rayville, La.

Steve Linscombe said he thought the experimental line CY005 would be ready soon. However, it turned out not to be totally uniform for a cereal chemistry component, which would make it unsuitable for commercial production.

Instead of continuing to work on making that line uniform for the component, Linscombe decided to drop that line but continue with two other medium-grain Clearfield lines that appear superior to CY005 in yield and other traits.

“It will be another two years before a CL medium grain is widely available,” Linscombe told the 60 people attending the field day.

Clearfield rice, which was developed at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station in Crowley, is being grown on almost half of the South’s rice acreage.

“So I’m spending half of my time to develop advanced Clearfield lines,” he said. The LSU AgCenter is testing 22 Clearfield lines across the rice-growing areas of the state.

Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, said he has worked with a polymer-coated urea fertilizer. The coating gradually dissolves, releasing the fertilizer slowly. But Harrell said the product needs more work, although it shows promise. “It’s not quite there yet,” Harrell said.

Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said this year’s rice crop is late. Saichuk expects yields to be down this year, but said last year’s record crop was a surprise.

Rice harvest is just getting under way in the southern area of the state. Harvest in north Louisiana is still a few weeks away.

“For the most part, it’s probably as good a rice crop as I’ve ever had,” said farmer Elliot Colvin of Rayville, La. Colvin has allowed a field on his farm to be used for the LSU AgCenter off-station rice research trials.

Donovan Taves of Rayville said he doesn’t expect his yield to be his best ever “but it looks pretty good.”

John Owen of Rayville said his supply of surface water is about to run out but he hopes to have just enough to keep a flood on his fields.