Unusually heavy rains in south Louisiana are delaying this year’s rice harvest, LSU AgCenter experts said July 12 at the Northeast Rice and Soybean Field Day at Oak Grove, La.

Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said rainy, cloudy weather also has slowed the crop’s maturity because of reduced sunlight. He said some fields have been harvested in south Louisiana with a yield of 145 to 150 bushels per acre, or 40 to 42 barrels.

Saichuk said the blast rice disease in south Louisiana will reduce yields considerably on many fields, but the epidemic has not spread to north Louisiana fields.

“This year we have the worst epidemic of blast I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station.

Linscombe said the blast outbreak will enable him to screen breeding lines of rice that are susceptible to blast. “It’s going to be very beneficial to me as a plant breeder.”

He said two conventional long-grain lines and three Clearfield long-grain lines will be considered for releases as varieties next year, but nothing new will be released this year.

Saichuk said a field in Concordia Parish was included in a nitrogen soil test study that recommended a nitrogen rate of 65 pounds per acre.

“It’s the cleanest field in terms of disease I have ever seen,” Saichuk said.

Sebe Brown, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said damage from the colaspis beetle caused some fields in north Louisiana to be replanted. He said the Dermacor seed treatment provides some control, and next year a new seed treatment, Nipsit INSIDE, will be available.

Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said farmers are still planting soybeans to take advantage of good prices. “The $16 a bushel price is encouraging people to take chances.”

He said the recent rains could be enough to finish out the crop that is already planted.

“Right now we probably have the best crop we’ve seen in Louisiana,” he said. “Now we just hope we get good conditions for harvest.”