A new herbicide option for Clearfield rice and more RiceTec hybrids to choose from — including medium grain hybrids — were highlights of a field day at RiceTec's headquarters in Alvin, Texas.

RiceTec hybrids include XL8 and XL7, two high-yielding, long-grain hybrids with excellent disease packages, according to Jim Thompson, seed sales and marketing manager for RiceTec.

BASF, which markets Clearfield rice, announced the 24-C registration of Beyond herbicide for Clearfield XL-8 and CL 161 only at the field day. CL 161 is a traditional rice variety with resistance to Newpath herbicide. Clearfield XL8 is a hybrid with Newpath resistance.

Beyond has the same mode of action as Newpath, but is a different compound, according to BASF. The label requires that it be used after two Newpath applications have been made. It is basically for use as a rescue treatment for red rice. It controls larger red rice than Newpath, but has less residual. The timing for application is between rice tillering and up to panicle initiation.

Both new technologies bring a lot of benefits to the market, noted Thompson.

“On the hybrid side, there is consistency of yield, reduced risk from diseases and other environmental factors that can affect standard varieties more than they affect hybrids,” Thompson said. “On the Clearfield side, Newpath and Beyond herbicides provide excellent red rice control and overall weed control. Put them together (in Clearfield XL8) and it's just a dynamite combination.”

Thompson said RiceTec has enjoyed good annual growth in hybrid rice sales since the company first entered the market several years ago, especially with Clearfield XL8. “Obviously, we're still in the early stages of developing an overall market, but we've had a multi-fold increase in market share from last year and expect to double market share again next year.”

When RiceTec hybrids were introduced, RiceTec recommended that growers limit the number of acres planted in hybrids. “But with our newer hybrids combining excellent standability, disease resistance and good milling characteristics, we're past that stage.

“Some growers plant 100 percent hybrids. Some are at 50 percent. Some are still in the initiation stage, just getting comfortable with hybrids. Our average acreage per customer has increased significantly.”

RiceTec also introduced several new grain hybrids, including two medium grains.

XP712 is the first medium grain hybrid in the U.S. market. Standability has been equal to Bengal, with milling yield slightly less than Bengal.

XP716 is a medium grain advanced experimental hybrid similar to Bengal in maturity, milling and standability

New long grain hybrids include XP723, which has milling yield and standability similar to Wells, and XP710, an extremely high-yielding, early-maturing hybrid with excellent grain yield, disease tolerance, standability and milling yield. Limited supplies of XP710 were available through special purchase agreements for 2004.

Michael Skalicky, who farms rice in Ganado, Texas, is raising two medium grain hybrids this year, XP712 and XP716, on 160 acres. “Coming from Bengal with blast, stem rot and sheath blight, I was looking for a better disease package and milling quality, said Michael, who raises 400 total acres of rice.

“We'll see how it works when the combine runs through, but so far it looks real good. It has a little sheath blight in it.”

Michael's father, Gary, raises 900 acres of rice, including 128 acres of Clearfield XL-8 “for the disease package and yield. Conventional varieties will get close to it, but it will outdo conventional.”

Gary also raises 275 acres of CL 161 to improve his red rice control. “Without a herbicide-resistance rice line, we have to go with a corn, grain sorghum rice rotation.”