Steve Linscombe wears two hats. As a long-time rice researcher/breeder in south Louisiana, he must be up-to-speed on what is happening in the crop. As theLSU AgCenter Regional Director for the 14-parish Southwest Region, as well as Resident Coordinator for the Rice Research Station in Crowley, Linscombe must keep abreast of funding and legislative issues.

On Tuesday morning, Delta Farm Press spoke with Linscombe about the 2011 planting season, funding for research and a trio of new varieties that have been released. Among his comments:

How have the federal and state funding cuts affected the station?

“We’re being hit from two directions.

“Federal funding is important for land-grants through the Hatch Act and Smith-Lever. Right now, Smith-Lever is probably under more threat than Hatch. But with the ongoing budget situation in D.C., all of the programs are in some jeopardy.

“We’re very concerned with how federal funding will affect our research and Extension programs.

“Unfortunately, because of the financial situation the state of Louisiana is in, the LSU AgCenter has lost considerable funding in recent years. And it looks like there may be more cuts during the next state legislative session. It’s very difficult to deal with.

“Several weeks ago, it was announced that three of our experiment stations are closing: Calhoun, Rosepine and the Coastal station. That’s unprecedented and was the last thing you’d want to do. However, at some point in time, the continuous cuts mean we can’t have all the stations and programs.”   

For more, see House budget cuts: land-grants, Extension, research.

On the 2011 planting season…

“The planting season is going very well. We’ve had extremely mild temperatures since the end of February. There have been ideal planting and growing conditions. Most of the rice has germinated well, has taken off and is growing very well.  

“We planted a lot of rice early. There was more rice planted in early March – actually, the whole month of March – since I’ve been working with the crop. There’s a lot of rice that is flooded or will soon have the permanent flood applied. That’s pretty early for us.

“It is a bit dry and a lot of growers could use a shower. We’ve been missing rains, although some isolated areas have gotten some rain. But most are having to run the wells to flush and put on permanent floods.

“It’s been a windy April, so far. That has complicated some efforts to put out herbicides. All in all, though, it’s been a very good spring for planting rice.”

For more, see Rice Research Station's rice camera.

On Louisiana’s 2011 rice acreage…

“Just like all the rice states, Louisiana rice acreage will be down. We’ll see a 10 percent drop, maybe a bit higher.

“Most of the reduction will be in north Louisiana. There, growers have more opportunities to rotate acreage to corn, cotton and soybeans. The rice acreage in south Louisiana will probably be down only slightly from 2010.”