At my age I should not be wishing for time to move faster. However, I certainly will be glad when the upcoming rice crop is in the ground, which, I hope, will mean much of the uncertainty we have dealt with since last fall will be history.

Most questions I am receiving are in regards to the variety CL 131. There is a cloud hanging over that variety due to the finding of the LibertyLink gene LL 62 in some samples tested. While the LL 62 gene is deregulated and poses no threat, it remains an issue with some foreign customers.

The fact it is there has been known by the regulatory agencies for some time. However, they had been uncertain how to handle it since it was detected only in some samples and at extremely low levels.

However, recent reports indicating the LL 62 gene was present early in the CL 131 breeding program cast the future of this variety very much in doubt. It is unfortunate because the Clearfield technology has been rapidly accepted by growers and CL 131 was the most widely planted variety last year.

If CL 131 is not planted, it brings up interesting questions.

The first: “I was going to plant CL 131 behind my 2006 Clearfield rice, now can I plant a conventional variety?” The best case scenario would be to plant an alternate crop, because I do not recommend following Clearfield rice with Clearfield rice anyway.

Soybeans are the most obvious choice, but corn can be planted 8.5 months following the last Newpath application. Do not plant grain sorghum following Clearfield rice.

The Newpath label prohibits planting conventional rice the following year, and I will not suggest or recommend otherwise. However, there will be those who want to know what the research shows and what their “chances of injury are.” In research we conducted at the University of Arkansas and in some other research I am familiar with, injury to conventional rice following Clearfield rice occurred about half the time. At normal rates it was outgrown. However, I have seen some tough looking fields where farmers tried it.

Nobody can tell you what your “chances are” because it is a crap shoot. Again, my recommendation is plant an alternate crop.

Another question I have received is, “I was going to plant CL 131 following my 2006 Cheniere to control any volunteers. What will happen if I plant a conventional variety?”

Planting a Clearfield variety behind Cheniere has been recommended in case any Cheniere plants with the LL 601 gene volunteered back. The industry is trying to take every step possible to clean up our system.

My first suggestion would be to plant an alternative crop. I realize that in some situations, especially zero grade situations, this is not practical. If you do plant a conventional variety behind Cheniere, you may consider delaying the planting some and destroy any potential volunteer plants with tillage or a burn down herbicide.

While every precaution needs to be taken, I believe the risk of further contaminating the system due to volunteers is extremely low compared to other ways it can happen.

The CL 131 situation is just the latest in a season of uncertainty. This past year has been a challenge to say the least. I have had consultants tell me, “If my farmer does not plant CL 131 he will plant beans and I may lose half of my business!”

This too shall pass. There is always silver lining. We just have not found it yet in this case. Let's get the crop in the ground and come out of this stronger than ever.