AgWatch


The 2018 Rice Season In Louisiana

DR. DUSTIN HARRELL

RAYNE, LA.
   Record grain yields were last achieved in Louisiana during the 2014 growing season when we were blessed with very favorable weather conditions.
   Until 2018, each crop since 2014 had been successively lower yielding than the year before. Louisiana saw constant rainfall and cloudy conditions nearly the entire rice growth period in 2015. In 2016, record flooding occurred when over 24 inches of rainfall was recorded in a 36-hour period during harvest in some areas in southwest Louisiana. The 2017 season saw more flooding, albeit earlier in the season, and poor growing conditions throughout the remainder of the season. I would say Louisiana was due for a good year. Fortunately, Louisiana had more favorable growing conditions in 2018 and near record yields were obtained, but there were many agronomic challenges along the way.
   Louisiana planted just over 434,000 acres in 2018. Planting was spread out more evenly than normal from the period beginning in late February through March, mainly due to wet soil conditions caused by frequent, but not excessive, rainfall. The Rice Variety by Parish Survey conducted annually by extension agents indicated that Louisiana planted approximately 89 percent long grain, 10 percent medium grain, and 1 percent special purpose rice varieties. The top planted rice varieties and hybrids included CL153 (19.5 percent), CL111 (14 percent), Cheniere (11.9 percent), Mermentau (10.5 percent), CLXL745 (9.7 percent), Jupiter (5.8 percent) and XP753 (4.9 percent). Clearfield seed technology in both inbred and hybrid rice varieties made up approximately 59 percent of the acres. The new Provisia herbicide technology was available for the first time in 2018 in a variety named PVL01 and it was planted on approximately 10,000 acres or 2.3 percent of the total acreage.
   The first real challenge of 2018 was cool weather. Most of March and the first few weeks of April were cooler than normal. In fact, we even had a daily low temperature in the third week of April that reached into the mid-30s. Cold damage, delayed growth and development, and short and stunted plants were common early on.
   Rice stressed by cold weather also tended to be more susceptible to herbicide damage with many of our commonly used early-season rice herbicides.
   The rice herbicide Loyant was available to growers for the first time in 2018. Loyant is a unique herbicide in that it is an auxin and it has activity on broadleaves, sedges, and even some grasses. It was used on many acres during its first year of availability and we learned a lot about the herbicide. First, it is only effective on small grasses and is not effective in controlling the larger grass problems. However, it is very effective in controlling soybeans and several drift issues with the herbicide were recorded. Rice can also be damaged by the herbicide when used on recently land-leveled fields or when other rice stresses (like cold stress) are present. Hybrid rice also seemed to be more susceptible to the damage than conventional rice.
   The weather turned hot almost overnight in late April, almost like a light switch was turned on. Hot dry weather was prevalent throughout the remainder of the season until very late. Preflood nitrogen fertilizer applications were easily made in 2018 making the fertilizer efficiency higher than in most years. The drought-like conditions made the rice move quickly and favorable for high yields due to the lower disease potential. The only real problem were growers who could not keep up with the flood due to lower irrigation capacities.
   The winter preceding the 2018 planting season was colder than normal and the sentiment going into the season was that the insect and disease pressure would be lessened to some degree. Disease potential was low due to the drought conditions and few blast issues were reported. Sheath blight did move in late with some of our more susceptible varieties. Insect pressure from stink bugs and the rice water weevil were not overly excessive in 2018.
   The new Provisia variety PVL01 did better than expected in 2018. We knew going into the season that the variety was lower yielding than all other commonly grown varieties and hybrids. We also knew that the technology would enable farmers to clean up Newpath-resistant red rice and weedy rice while still making decent yields, and even higher yields in fields that previously had excessive outcross populations. We also learned that the cold weather stress also increased the herbicide damage from the Provisia herbicide; however, the control of red rice was excellent. Due to blast susceptibility, two fungicide applications were applied on the variety. While blast was controlled, sheath blight did become a problem in some fields that received two fungicide applications. Part of the problem is the very leafy canopy of the variety which shielded the fungicide from reaching into the canopy. Nonetheless, the variety probably averaged in the low 40-barrel range in south Louisiana which I would label a huge success.
   The 2018 rice did not set a record, however, it will be remembered as one of our highest yielding seasons in Louisiana. ∆
   DR. DUSTIN HARRELL: Professor/Research Coordinator, LSU AgCenter
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