Currently midway through their rice-growing season, farmers heard advice from LSU AgCenter experts at the June 13 Acadia Parish field day on precautions to consider to protect this year’s crop.

A group of visiting Brazilian rice researchers also attended the event held at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station South Farm.

The new fungicide Sercadis appears to be working well on fungicide-resistant sheath blight, but a second application may be required if the wet weather continues, said LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth.

The more dangerous disease of blast should be farmers’ top priority because it has the potential to cause higher yield losses than sheath blight. “I’ve seen more blast this year than I’ve seen in 20 years,” Groth said.

Sercadis has no activity on blast, which means that disease requires a different fungicide, such as Gem, Stratego, Quadris or QuiltXL. Timing of fungicide application is essential for blast and it should be applied at 50 to 70 percent heading.

Two new urease inhibitors are available that delay the volatilization of nitrogen fertilizers, said LSU AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell. For years, Agrotain was the only proven product. But now Weyerhauser has released Arborite AG, and Helena came out this year with N-Fixx.

Harrell also talked about growing a second crop in rice. A rice crop cut later than Sept. 1 probably won’t benefit from nitrogen fertilizer for the ratoon crop because application of the fertilizer will delay its maturity. Harrell said fungicides applied to a ratoon crop did not seem to make a difference in disease outbreaks in test plots.

Seed treatments for rice water weevils appear to be working well, said LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk. Adult weevils are being found in fields but no immature weevils are being found on rice plant roots. “This is the best year I’ve ever seen as far as the roots go.”

John Kruse, LSU AgCenter corn and cotton specialist, talked about a $17 million project being conducted by the LSU AgCenter on growing sweet sorghum for its biomass to make biofuels and decrease dependence on foreign petroleum. Several LSU AgCenter research sites, including the South Farm, are being used to grow the cane.

This is the first year of the five-year project, Kruse said, and research by the LSU AgCenter will focus on finding the best practices to grow the crop.

More herbicide-resistant weeds are being found in Louisiana, possibly because of last year’s flooding that brought seeds from states upriver where resistance has been a major problem, said LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy.

Jason Bond, Mississippi State University weed scientist, warned that herbicide-resistant pigweed has become a huge problem for farmers in the Mississippi River Delta.

Levy also said red-banded stinkbugs and corn earworms are showing up earlier than usual in soybean crops. He also advised farmers that using fungicides to control Cercospora in soybeans requires early application of fungicides on fields with plants that are in the R-1 growth stage to attack the disease before it infects a plant.

 

Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said the medium-grain rice variety Caffey is slightly outyielding another medium-grain, Jupiter, but with a bolder grain shape.

The hybrid program at the Rice Research Station continues to make progress. “We’re making monumental strides in our hybrid program,” Linscombe said.

Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter crawfish researcher, advised rice farmers that after their harvests they should maintain a shallow flood on rice fields to be used for crawfish.

LSU AgCenter weed specialist Eric Webster showed farmers different effects of new herbicides such as Sharpen and League on weeds found in rice.

Webster warned that soybeans resistant to dicamba herbicide and cotton resistant to 2-4,D herbicide will cause more drift problems for rice farmers. He said the worst drift problems involved ground spray rigs being used in windy conditions.