Caffey, a new LSU AgCenter medium-grain variety (named after retired LSU AgCenter Chancellor H. Rouse Caffey) has a bold, uniform grain shape.

A boxcar load of the new variety will have to be available for consideration by the Kellogg Co. “It will probably be by the end of the summer before we have enough of this rice to accomplish that,” said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.

Linscombe said Caffey has less lodging potential than Jupiter but more than Neptune.

Several experimental Clearfield lines that show good yield potential will be in advanced testing this year, Linscombe said.

The new Jazzman II variety shows promise for an increased aromatic quality and grain appearance, according to Xueyan Sha, LSU AgCenter rice breeder. Testing by the USDA revealed the new variety has three times the amount of the chemical that imparts aroma over the earlier Jazzman variety and triple the amount of some Thai jasmine. The grain color is more translucent than the original Jazzman.

“It is a significant improvement,” said Sha.

Linscombe said Jazzman II will have to be stored separately from other rice, but it offers an opportunity to grow value-added rice. He expects the variety will be grown on 12,000 to 15,000 acres in 2011.

In early January, rice farmers across south Louisiana got a refresher course from a slate of experts with the LSU AgCenter. Sessions were held in Welsh, Ville Platte, Crowley, Kaplan and Bunkie. On Jan. 26, north Louisiana rice farmers will meet at the Rayville Civic Center.

2010 yields down

For many Louisiana rice producers, 2010 yields were below those of 2009. Numerous Arkansas farmers had their worst season ever, with some harvesting extremely low yields coupled with very poor milling quality, especially on their later-planted rice, said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.

Hot weather probably weakened rice plants’ immune systems in 2010, allowing pathogens such as bacteria panicle blight to flourish, according to Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist.

Saichuk said planting early is one of the few steps that can be taken to avoid exposing plants to extreme heat at the critical window of pollination. “Right now there’s no real solution.”

Don Groth, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said a few varieties have some resistance to bacterial panicle blight. He cautioned farmers that draining a field can increase chances of a blast disease outbreak.

Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, said farmers should consider using propanil with Newpath herbicide. The combination could make a yield difference ranging from 1,300 to 2,650 pounds per acre.

Webster urged farmers to attack weeds early and not pinch pennies. “It’s real important to be aggressive.”