Louisiana farmers let out a collective sigh of relief as word spread recently that federal officials had approved release of a new fungicide for rice.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the Section 18 label for the new BASF product called Sercadis on a maximum of 40,000 acres of rice in Louisiana. The approval had been requested by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to address a strain of sheath blight disease resistant to the fungicides that had been used.
“This is a godsend,” said Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist. “There were guys getting ready to go back 20 years in disease control.”
The fungicide's need had become obvious because many farmers in northwest Acadia Parish would have had nothing to address the uncontrollable disease, said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station. “Of all these Section 18 applications I have been a part of in the past 30 years, this is one of the most critical.”
LSU AgCenter county agents and scientists will meet this week with BASF representatives to get the details on the new product.
Kim Frey -- who farms 1,000 acres of rice near Mowata with his son, Tommy -- said his 2011 crop yields were reduced by as much as 20 percent.
“Last year we had whole cuts that were affected,” Frey said, adding that the disease first became evident in 2010 and then spread in 2011.
“Sercadis should be here with plenty of time to spare,” Frey said. “That is a relief.”
Sercadis has no activity against other diseases, said LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth. “It's strictly a sheath blight material.”
Farmers should not expect the fungicide to prevent all sheath blight, Groth said. “I don't think it's quite as good as Quadris when it first came out.”
It's possible that only one application of the new chemical will be necessary. But with heavy moisture conditions, two applications may be necessary.
Application timing is still at least two weeks away. It will be applied in the boot stage of rice growth when the developing panicle is 2-4 inches in the boot.
Farmers have expressed their relief, said Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia and Jefferson Davis parishes. The chemical for Sercadis, fluxapyroxad, is an ingredient in the soybean fungicide Priaxor that is used on soybeans against the aerial blight disease.