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Happy 50th Anniversary to Rice Farming Magazine! Thank you for being a trusted voice and for setting the standard for other publications to follow. Here’s to 50 more years of success!

February 2017 SPECIAL


Vol. 51, No. 3



COLUMNS 4 Publisher’s Note Industry and Rice Farming continue to evolve to meet challenges




6 USA Rice Update USA Rice takes a look back at 50 years of ag advocacy

DEPA RTM EN TS 25 Specialist Speaking Make a written plan before the season starts

ON THE COVER: As Rice Farming celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017, join us as we look back at how far the industry has come. Illustration by Ashley Kumpe. Photos courtesy of Rice Farming, Mark and Michael Ahrent, and LSU AgCenter



50TH A NNIV ER SARY FEATUR ES 8 Rice in California Unique production system has evolved to meet California’s special needs, resulting in high yields and quality and with an eye on the environment.

12 Trials and triumps A half-century of technology and policy changes have helped Arkansas grow to become the nation’s top rice producer.

18 How times have changed!


Yields, pest control and cultivation have advanced during the past five decades as Texas growers strive to remain profitable.

Stay up-to-date with the latest from Rice Farming.

20 By 1966, rice was here to stay ricefarming1 Follow us on Twitter: @RiceFarming Follow us on Instagram: @ricefarming


Early rice pioneers had to overcome doubting lenders and agronomic challenges to pave the way for today’s successful Mississippi rice industry.

22 Une évolution de riz (A rice evolution) Ag policy, technology and breeding have helped shape the Louisiana rice industry during the past five decades. RICE FARMING • FEBRUARY 2017



Industry, Rice Farming continue to evolve to meet challenges It’s hard to believe Rice Farming magazine will celebrate its Golden Anniversary this year. Many changes and challenges have affected the U.S. rice industry over the past 50 years. Farms are larger, prices are volatile, machinery is highly mechanized and resistance to herbicides is top of mind. Water supply and usage are hotly debated and GMO issues test the global market. Farmers and consultants refer to information online or via mobile apps, and new production practices lead to more efLia Guthrie ficient farming. Publisher Despite the changes and challenges, rice farmers persevere to overcome and address these issues. You are a resilient group! In the course of battling hurricanes, governmental mandates and Mother Nature in general, you produce top-quality rice for both domestic use and the global marketplace. In addition, you are exceptional stewards of the land. I live in California and have witnessed the impressive migration of waterfowl. I’m also from Mississippi and have enjoyed a few memorable outings in the duck blind. In my opinion, American rice farmers are some of the most progressive farmers in the world. You leave a legacy for generations. Rice Farming magazine continues to evolve as well. In the past few years, we launched a rice e-newsletter that Vicky produces every month to keep you abreast of the latest industry information. Our website,, is available should you need a quick reference to an issue or just want to take a look at a past article or Web-exclusive material. Rice Farming recognizes outstanding industry leaders with the Rice Awards, which we co-sponsor with Horizon Ag and USA Rice. New for 2017 will be the Rice Consultant of the Year award, which we co-sponsor with Dow AgroSciences. This award will honor a rice consultant or pest control adviser (PCA) who has provided dedication, leadership and innovation to his or her farmer clientele to ensure they produce a high-yielding, quality crop. In the next 50 years, global demand for food is expected to double, according to the Global Environmental Governance Project. We hope this will be an opportunity for our farmers since rice is a primary staple for more than half the world’s population. While there have been many changes over the past 50 years, there is at least one constant. Rice Farming will continue to provide you with profitable production strategies as we move through the next half-century. Drop us a line anytime to say hello or bring an important issue to our attention. We would love to hear from you.

Lia Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 6515 Goodman Road, Box 360, Olive Branch, MS 38654. Call 901-767-4020 or email



RICEFARMING EDITORIAL/PRODUCTION Editor Vicky Boyd 209-505-3612 Copy Editor Amanda Huber Art Director Ashley Kumpe

ADMINISTRATION Publisher/Vice President Lia Guthrie 901-497-3689 Associate Publisher Carroll Smith 901-326-4443 Sales Manager Scott Emerson 386-462-1532 Circulation Manager Charlie Beek 847-559-7324 Production Manager Kathy Killingsworth 901-767-4020 For circulation changes or change of address, call 847-559-7578

ONE GROWER PUBLISHING, LLC Mike Lamensdorf PRESIDENT/TREASURER Lia Guthrie PUBLISHER/VICE PRESIDENT ASSOCIATED PUBLICATIONS — One Grower Publishing LLC also publishes COTTON FARMING, THE PEANUT GROWER, SOYBEAN SOUTH and CORN SOUTH magazines. RICE FARMING (ISSN 0194-0929) is published monthly January through May, and December, by One Grower Publishing LLC, 6515 Goodman Road, Box 360, Olive Branch, MS 38654. Periodicals postage paid at Memphis, TN. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to OMEDA COMMUNICATIONS, CUSTOMER SERVICE DEPARTMENT, P.O. BOX 1388, NORTHBROOK, IL 60065-1388. Annual subscriptions are $25.00. International rates are $55.00 Canada/Mexico, $90.00 all other countries for AirSpeeded Delivery. (Surface delivery not available due to problems in reliability.) $5.00 single copy. All statements, including product claims, are those of the person or organization making the statement or claim. The publisher does not adopt any such statement or claims as its own and any such statement or claim does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. RICE FARMING is a registered trademark of One Grower Publishing LLC, which reserves all rights granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in association with its registration.

© Copyright 2017

One Grower Publishing, LLC 6515 Goodman Road, Box 360, Olive Branch, MS 38654 Phone: 901-767-4020


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1967 -


- 2017

For 50 seasons, you’ve informed and empowered rice farmers across the industry. Here’s to 50 more. ©2017 Horizon Ag, LLC. All Rights Reserved.



Legislative progression USA Rice takes a look back at 50 years of ag advocacy in Washington, D.C.



By Betsy Ward President and CEO USA Rice

s Rice Farming celebrates its golden anniversary, I’d like to offer congratulations and take a brief look at what the agriculture landscape in Washington, D.C., has looked like over the past 50 years. Between Rice Farming’s first issue and today, we have witnessed 11 Farm Bills, 15 agriculture secretaries, and 11 House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairmen. Every agriculture secretary has a story. JFK’s Orville Freeman—secretary when Rice Farming was born—helped start food stamps. Richard Nixon’s Earl Butz told farmers to “plant fence row to fence row,” but he had to quit the job because he also told too many stories. Secretary John Block, under President Ronald Reagan, worked to prevent the 1980s farm financial crisis—remember PIK or Payment in Kind—but we still saw the largest exodus from farming since the Great Depression. Bill Clinton’s Mike Espy became the first African American agriculture secretary and under George W. Bush, Ann Veneman became the first woman. Clinton’s Dan Glickman went on to become chief executive officer of the motion picture industry, and Bush’s Ed Schafer was on stage for not one but two Farm Bill vetoes, the first since 1956. Iconic Ag Committee chairmen The House Agriculture Committee has produced some iconic chairmen over the same period, including Harold Cooley (D-N.C.) who was chairman when Rice Farming was first published and who holds the record as the longest serving chairman. Tom Foley (D-Wash.) chaired the committee before becoming the speaker. The current chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), also chaired the House Ag Committee, the only member to chair both. Does anyone remember Sen. Allen Ellen-



der (D) of Houma, La.? He chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee when Rice Farming began and was a strong advocate for the free school lunch program. Vermont’s Patrick Leahy (D)—the longest serving senator in office today—and North Carolina’s Jesse Helms (R) also carved big figures. In more recent times, so have Mississippi’s Thad Cochran (R), Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss (R) and Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln (D). Farm Bill evolution Revolution takes a back seat to evolution when it comes to farm policy. The 1970 law loosened production controls. The 1973 law further loosened them and introduced target prices with the goal of meeting worldwide demand, especially from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, whose purchase of U.S. exports was dubbed the “Great Grain Robbery.” The 1977 law increased supports, and the 1981 law made changes around the edges. The 1985 Farm Bill lowered support while introducing new conservation programs, and the 1990 law froze support while adding planting flexibility. The 1996 Farm Bill sharply increased planting flexibility while reducing support, and the 2002 law sharply increased support without reducing flexibility. The 2008 law made modest changes while the 2014 Farm Bill was a departure from 2008 by repealing direct payments. During the past 50 years, changes in farm policy have slowly unfolded from production controls aimed at parity prices to a market-oriented policy aimed at exports. No fewer than six of the past 10 Farm Bills benefited from an Agriculture Committee chairman hailing from a rice state, seven of 11 when 2018 is included. In others, rice has had strong representation, including Mississippi’s Cochran who has served on every Farm Bill conference over the past 31 years. Keeping a strong U.S. farm policy has been a top mission of USA Rice, and covering it all over the last half century has been Rice Farming. Thank you for a strong 50 years and looking forward to the next 50! RICEFARMING.COM

Be Proactive, Positive To Achieve Success Brad Ouzts

Cleveland Air Service Inc. Cleveland, Miss. Growing up, I learned a lot from my father who was a crop consultant and a professor at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. He taught me about damaging weed and insect pests and which products to use to control them. He also taught the chemical courses at Merigold Flying School in Merigold, Miss. Meeting the pilots and observing the planes flying on a regular basis ultimately influenced my decision to become a crop duster myself. I now own Cleveland Air Service Inc. and have flown many crops, but the main one is rice. I currently operate an Air Tractor AT-802A, which to my knowledge is the largest row crop aircraft available. During the 2016 season, rice prices were still down, and hot, dry weather conditions resulted in some yield loss. However, harvest went well, and most farmers were able to get their land in good condition for the 2017 season.

Application Timing Is Paramount Over the past few years, pigweed and barnyardgrass have become more difficult to manage in our area. Sprangletop also presents problems, especially when rice loses water due to hot, dry conditions. I have applied Grasp, RebelEX, Clincher and Grandstand, and in my opinion, they are all effective in controlling weeds if applied in a timely manner under the right conditions. It’s important for farmers to have a knowledgable rice consultant to help them succeed in producing good quality, high-yielding rice. During the season, these consultants give me instructions on what herbicide to apply at what rate to achieve optimum weed control at a particular growth stage of the rice. In this business, timing is everything. One of the challenges I face as an ag pilot is that some farmers plant earlier than others, which makes it difficult to clean up a field or apply certain herbicides if a crop is already emerging in an adjacent field. My advice to farmers is to communicate with each other about which crops are going where and what varieties will be planted. If farmers, consultants and ag pilots are all aware of the placement of adjoining crops, applications can be made in a timely manner to avoid the potential for drift damage. As a pilot, it is my responsibility to install the latest software in my GPS system and understand the limits of my aircraft. I have to know how much the plane can handle on any given day and what to do in certain weather conditions to provide outstanding service for each of my growers. As we go through the 2017 season, never lose faith in your ability to produce the best, most profitable crop you can. We have made it this far, and we are going to make rice farming great again!

• Attended Delta State University, majoring in commercial aviation and minoring in biology • Has been an ag pilot for 27 years • Currently owns and operates Cleveland Air Service Inc. • Member of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association (MAAA), and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation • Received the MAAA L.D. “Nick” Nicholson Safety Award • Married to wife, Valerie. Two children: daughter Olivia, 21; and son Ashton, 18 • Enjoys flying, hunting, fishing, riding horses, cooking and spending time with family and friends

Recap: Be Proactive And Positive In 2017 1. Over the past few years, pigweed and barnyardgrass have become more difficult to manage in our area. Sprangletop also presents problems, especially when rice loses water due to hot, dry conditions.

2. In my opinion, Grasp, RebelEX, Clincher and Grandstand, are all effective in controlling weeds if applied in a timely manner under the right conditions. 3. Rice consultants give me instructions on what herbicide to apply at what rate to achieve optimum weed control at a particular growth stage of the rice. 4. Never lose faith in your ability to produce the best, most profitable crop you can.

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Rice in California: A look back at the past 50 years Unique production system evolved to meet California’s special needs, resulting in high yields and quality and with an eye on the environment. By Whitney Brim-DeForest, Luis Espino and Cass Mutters


ice production in California has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Improved varieties increased yields and marketability. Changes in agronomic practices improved production efficiencies and the economic sustainability of the crop while decreasing the environmental impacts of production. The California rice industry is a model of environmental stewardship. The industry works closely with regulatory agencies and conservation groups to ensure that rice production enhances wildlife habitat while promoting sound stewardship of water resources. A long history of grower support Since the establishment of the California Rice Experiment Station in 1912, rice growers have supported all aspects of rice research, with a special emphasis on developing varieties well adapted to the growing conditions in the Sacramento Valley. Before the 1960s, there were only three major public rice varieties: Calrose (medium-grain), Caloro and Colusa (both short-grains). The advent of the Cooperative Rice Research Foundation in 1968 launched an accelerated breeding program for medium-grain varieties that led to the release of nine new varieties within a decade. Major improvements during that period included the release of varieties with smooth hulls, semi-dwarf height and early maturity. The development of cold-tolerant varieties, released in 2000, allowed for the further expansion of acreage into cooler areas of the state. Prompted by the discovery of blast in California in 1998, blast-resistant varieties were released in 2005

Earl Wallace of Woodland, Calif. (pictured here in a February 1968 Rice Farming article) grew 5,000 acres of Earlirose and Calora rice with his sons.




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Congratulations to RICE FARMING MAGAZINE

for 50 years as the reliable voice of U.S. rice farming

and 2006. Since 2000, varietal improvements include increases in milling yield and yield stability, as well as significantly higher yield potentials compared to earlier varieties. Not just medium-grain Short- and long-grain varieties also have been improved in the past 50 years. In 1980, the first smooth-hulled, short-statured short-grain variety was released. Long-grain varieties are an important component of the California rice market, but early breeding efforts with Southern rice varieties proved difficult. Starting in the 1970s, several high-quality long-grain varieties were released, including two aromatic types and a basmati-type. The focus of breeding efforts for the long-grains is for taste and cooking quality. The advent of chemical fertilizers in the 1950s along with the widespread adoption of aerial seeding marked a dramatic increase in yields. During the 1970s, laser-guided leveling was introduced, resulting in the change from contour levees to parallel levees, improving water-use efficiency. The introduction and widespread adoption of the corrugated roller to finish the seed bed before flooding contributed to better stand establishment and uniformity. More recently, GPS-guided leveling has allowed growers to level fields almost yearly. The combination of varietal and agronomic improvements resulted in average yields increasing from approximately 3,000 pounds per acre in the 1950s to close to 9,000 pounds per acre in 2016, the highest in the United States. Focus on water quality During the 1970s, problems with offsite movement of herbicides from rice fields into the Sacramento River prompted the industry to develop practices to manage herbicide residues in rice field drain waters. Water-holding periods after pesticide applications, designed to allow pesticide degradation before drain water left fields, were developed and widely adopted, and are now required by pesticide labels. During the 1990s, recirculating and static-water irrigation systems were introduced to further reduce off-site pesticide movement. Growers have become experts at holding water and eliminating



Carl Wick (left) and Carroll High make a top team of farm adviser and grower. Wick was the University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Butte County, Calif. He received Rice Farming’s “Service To Rice Award” in 1969.

drainage after a pesticide application. Currently, the rice industry and California regulatory agencies collaborate in monitoring water quality and work together to maintain residue levels in rice drain water below levels of concern for wildlife and human consumption. The use of water holding periods has reduced the movement of pesticide residues into the Sacramento River by 97 percent since the inception of the program. Winter flooding a boon to waterfowl Before the 1990s, burning was the most common method to dispose of straw residue after harvest. In the early 1990s, air quality concerns led to the introduction of state laws restricting straw burning. As a result, growers started incorporating straw residues in the fall after harvest, followed by flooding of fields during the winter to encourage straw decomposition. This has resulted in the creation of additional habitat for migratory waterfowl, which has been valued at more than $1 billion. The environmental benefits of straw incorporation and winter flooding have been recognized by the rice industry and environmental groups, who now work closely to preserve them. Moreover, this method of straw decomposition provides about 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre,

allowing many growers to reduce the amount of pre-plant applied N. Currently, only about 10 percent of rice acreage is burned for straw disposal in a given year. Challenges ahead The introduction of chemical herbicides in the 1950s and ’60s provided effective weed control for three decades. However, since the early 1990s, an increasing number of weeds with herbicide resistance have posed major challenges for growers. Weed management has become complicated and expensive, relying heavily on herbicide mixtures and an increasing number of applications. Herbicide stewardship is critical to delay the evolution of resistance to new modes of action. With the monocropping system of rice cultivation and the limited number of new herbicide modes of action, herbicide resistance is one of the major production challenges growers currently face. Thanks to the strong relationship between rice growers and the research community, the rice industry in California is poised to be at the forefront of agronomic and varietal advances in rice production far into the future. With grower support, the California rice industry will continue to meet the increasing environmental and economic challenges it faces. 

Dr. Whitney Brim-DeForest is a University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser serving Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties. She may be reached at Dr. Luis Espino is a farm adviser serving Colusa, Glenn, Yolo and the Sacramento Capital Corridor. He may be reached at Dr. Cass Mutters is county director and farm adviser for Butte County. He may be reached at RICEFARMING.COM

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Rice harvest on the Ahrent Brothers Farms near Corning, Ark., in 1962 (left) and 1985.

Trials and triumphs A half century of technology and policy changes have helped Arkansas grow to become the nation’s top rice producer. By Mary Hightower


n 1967, the world saw the first heart transplant, “The Graduate” was No. 1 at the box office and the St. Louis Cardinals topped the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox in the World Series. It was also a time when rice harvest in Arkansas was closer to Halloween than Independence Day, rice acres and variety choices were fewer, and much of what the state grew was exported. Fifty years later, Arkansas is the nation’s leading rice grower, its 1.5 million acres bearing more than half of all the rice produced in the United States. Chuck Wilson, director of the Northeast Research and Extension Center for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture,

says changes in technology and farm policy helped grow the rice industry in the Natural State. “We’ve gone from acreage allotments to doing away with them,” Wilson says. “That’s allowed the number of acres to expand in Arkansas from less than a half-million to almost 1.75 million in some years. It’s also allowed the acreage to be more flexible.” The growth in rice acres coincided with an increase in farm size, which in turn has prompted producers to look for ways to manage a greater number of acres. New technologies over the past 50 years, such as the introduction of propanil as a landmark Continued on page 17

County agent Mark Bryles (left) and rice producer Don Eifling of Grady, Ark., looked forward to a bright future in this shot taken in 1967. Eifling, who passed away in 2016, was named Rice Farming magazine’s first Rice Farmer of the Year. In 1967, he farmed 610 acres of rice, most of it in Bluebonnet but also with a little Starbonnet.




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When Horizon Ag Clearfield® and conventional rice varieties yield the same, the ROI can be up to $19 more per acre with Clearfield varieties.

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Better er Disease Package P age Outside off weed w control, the ag gronomics of Clearfield ld varieties v and conventiona al varieties are similar in n many m cases. In addition to o economical e and effectiv ve weed control, both CL1153 and CL172 offer resistance to blast and are only moderately susceptible e to t bacterial panicle e blight. b They both posse ess the Pita gene that co onfers broadspectrum m blast b resistance for racess common c to the southern U.S. Purelines such s as Rex, Roy J and LaKast do not offer the disease package of new Clearfield varieties.. Although Al scouting forr blast b is still advised, th he likelihood of having to o treat t CL153 and CL172 72 is i minimal. In addition n, growers will not gett cost-effective c red rice co ontrol in the conventiona al rice system or the abilitty to take advantage of th he benefits of the residua al ALS herbicide.






Growers ers learn details about the improved impr ed disease package pack of Clearfield varieties v at a Horizon Ag g field day da in Kaplan, LA

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Better er Yields Help Close the Gap Between Be een AR and LA L Average rice e yields y have climbed d in i Louisiana since th he adoption of the Clearfi field system. Prior to Clearfield rice, the Pr e greatest g difference be etween Louisiana rice e production p and Arkansas rice e p production n was w that Arkansas grrowers engaged in more drill-seeded, d delayedfloo ood rice production, a main ma factor for higher yields in Arkansas. The e Clearfield C system for ric ce allowed Louisiana grrowers to adopt the drrill-seeded, delayed-flood d system, which led to o many agronomic benefi efits that have helped pu ut rice production on n a more m environmentally

and economically sustainable path for many across the state. This has resulted in Louisiana L increasing itss state rice yield average e per p year since 2001 by y 2.7 bushels per acre, whereas Arkansas has only y increased its yield by 1.6 6 bushels b per acre during the same time period.. In I the 10 years prior to o the Clearfield system fo or rice, Louisiana average e state rice yields were fla at (data not shown).

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Continued from page 12


weed management tool in rice, collapsible poly tubing and electronic devices, such as iPads and drones, continue to change the face of rice farming. “We weren’t using polypipe until 20 years ago. Now most everyone is using it to some extent. It has made us much more efficient in irrigation,” Wilson says. “We’ve got one farmer who has a drone and uses it on a regular basis to check water levels.” If there’s a leak, “he has the ability to fly that drone and pinpoint the leak rather than walking each levee to find it. “Precision ag is slowly taking hold. Most everyone has yield monitors, and some farmers are using variable-rate fertilizer technology. They’re using image analysis whether it’s from satellite images or aerial photography or handheld ‘Greenseeker’ tools. It’s a big transition from where we were 50 years ago. As we become bigger, we have to do things differently.” The rice plants, too, are different than they were 50 years ago. Wilson says the tall varieties, such as Starbonnet, that were prone to lodging and disease have been replaced by varieties that are shorter, earlier maturing plants and with better disease resistance. “The introduction of hybrids and herbicide-resistant technology (i.e., Clearfield rice) have influenced our variety decisions as well,” he says. Keith Glover, chief executive of Producers Rice Mill in Stuttgart, Ark., says the variety improvements are significant. “In the early ’80s, farmers thought they had it good with 100 bushels per acre,” Glover says. “Today they’re yielding 200 in many cases. A lot of farmers are getting that on certain fields.”

The Corning Arkansas Riceland Foods facility in 1959. At the time, it had a capacity of 1.49 million bushels and employed 10 people.

Bigger appetite for rice Another huge change in the past five decades is the rise in the amount of rice eaten in the United States, according to both Glover and Carl Brothers, Riceland Foods’ senior vice president and chief operating officer. When it comes to how the rice industry has evolved in those past five decades, “I’ve been here 52 years, and I’ve seen most of it,” Brothers says. “My No. 1 (change) is the increase in domestic consumption. Domestic consumption has more than doubled since 1980.” Brothers attributes a large share of that growth to “finding rice in more restaurants throughout America and the influx of different ethnic influences” in food choices. Twitter: @RiceFarming

Francis Williams served as director of what was then called the Rice Branch of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1953-1988. The facility in Stuttgart, Ark., has since been renamed the Rice Research and Extension Center.

“Rice is being used in a lot more products. It’s an ingredient in snack foods, granola bars, cereals,” Glover says. “Rice is gluten free and that’s made it popular in various foods because of that. “We have a lot more sold domestically than we did 40-50 years ago. Forty to 50 years ago, 60 percent had to be exported. Today, the export versus domestic percentages are reversed with approximately 60 percent of our production now consumed here in the United States.” Brothers says more U.S. rice is appearing on the plates of neighbors in the western hemisphere, with the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Columbia Free Trade agreement opening markets in Mexico, Central and South America. Although global rice trade has increased almost fourfold, “the U.S. hasn’t participated much,” he says, adding that the U.S. share of world rice trade had declined from 25 percent in 1980 to about 8 percent in 2015. And the world rice market is only becoming more competitive. “The quality of rice coming out of Asia is becoming more of a challenge to the U.S.,” Brothers says. “Another big story for me was that India came out of nowhere in the last 10 years and is expected to be the No. 1 exporter in the world, replacing Thailand.” Research counts Brothers and Wilson both note that over the past five decades, an increase in dollars going to rice research has enabled farmers in Arkansas and other rice-producing states to become more efficient and competitive in global markets. “The research money available to look at rice and improve management and breeding has increased substantially,” Wilson says. “That has had a significant role” in industry changes in the last five decades. “We need to be sure we use that (research) money” wisely, Brothers says.  Mary Hightower is director of communication services with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. She may be reached at RICE FARMING • FEBRUARY 2017




How times have changed! Yields, pest control and cultivation have advanced during the past five decades as Texas growers strive to remain profitable. By L.T. “Ted” Wilson


ice production in Texas has changed greatly over the past 50 years. Table 1 summarizes a few of the major differences comparing U.S. farm and rice production today with production 50 years ago in 1966. In the late 1960s, the average farmer was 51 years old, the size of a farm was 1,600 acre and the cost of agricultural land was $105 per acre. The large majority of rice acreage was planted on contours with the distance between levees smaller the greater the slope of the land. Contour paddy levees occupy on average about 18 percent of land. Because levees yield much less than the flooded paddies, the yield of land with contour levees was greatly reduced. In 1966, nitrogen was applied as a single application almost entirely by ground rig. Available insecticides were mostly organophosphates, chlorinated hydrocarbons and carbamates, and were typ-

ically applied at a rate of 1 to 3 pounds active ingredient per acre. The herbicide propanil was only just becoming available. In 1966, 100 percent of rice producers grew inbred rice varieties developed through classical pedigree breeding. Texas rice farmers produced an average of about 4,300 pounds of grain per acre, while grain milling yield in the low to mid 50-percent range was considered quite good. All of the commercial rice varieties grown in Texas were taller than today and averaged about 47 inches in height. Move to higher efficiency During the 50 years that have elapsed since 1966, the average age of a U.S. rice farmer has increased by eight years to 59 years old. Farms now average 3,000 acres in size with a bit more than 600 acres planted to rice. The average price for agricultural land has risen by 3,800


This long-since-shuttered rice mill near Altair, Texas, is a remnant of when the Lone Star State was one of the nation’s top rice producers with more about 600,000 acres in 1980.




Table 1. Snapshots in time of Texas rice production in 1966 and 2016. Production and Management




Average age of farmers (years)

51 years

59 years data-mine/2014/02/24/us-farmers-areold-and-getting-much-older

Average size of U.S. farms (acres)

1,611 ac

3,030 ac (619 ac planted to rice)

Average price of agricultural land



Land preparation and planting

Contour leveling, high levee density

High use of laser-leveling with major reduction in levee density

Wilson et al. 2007

Nitrogen application

Single application almost entirely by ground rig

Split applications using ground rigs preplant and aerial application post-emergence

Available insecticides and common rates (lbs/ac/application)

organophosphate, chlorinated hydrocarbon, carbamates (1-3 lbs/ac/appl.)

Pyrethroids, neonicotinoids (0.03 to 0.125 lbs a.i/ac/appl.)

Discussions between M. O. Way and L. T. Wilson

Average grain yields (lbs/ac)

4,300 lb/ac

7,800 to 8,600 lbs/ac and

Milling yields

52% whole grain milling yield was considered normal

62% whole grain and 70-74% total milling yields are common in Texas

Tabien et al. (2008)

Semi-dwarf rice trait

Not introduced until 1977

Commonly incorporated into many Texas varieties

percent to about $4,000 per acre. Depending on the irrigation district, more than half of rice acreage in Texas receives one form or another of limited tillage production. Most growers also use laser leveling and many use constant grade or zero bench grade laser leveling. Adoption of more advanced laser leveling has allowed paddy density to be greatly reduced and in many cases with as low as 2-3 percent of the rice land being levees. Texas rice farmers now use about 40 percent less water than was used 50 years ago on a per-acre basis. Older classes of insecticides have been progressively replaced with several newer classes—pyrethroids and neonicotinoids represent two of the most common classes of insecticides now used in rice. The newer insecticides are applied at much lower rates (0.03 to 0.13 pounds per acre) than were organophosphates, chlorinated hydrocarbons and carbamate insecticides. The current rates are as little as

Taken from the April 1967 issue of Rice Farming: Wesley Arabie of Orange County, Texas, grew the medium-grain Nato as well as the long-grains Belle Patna and Bluebell. Twitter: @RiceFarming

1/100th the rates used 50 years ago. At least half of insecticide use is as seed treatments, which in many cases helps reduce the likelihood of pesticide drift and exposure to non-target arthropods. A relatively large number of typically highly effective herbicides and fungicides are also now available. However, resistance to herbicides and fungicides increasingly challenges production. Pesticide resistance in Texas rice systems was not a noticeable problem in 1966. Almost all rice grown in Texas today has one or more semi-dwarf genes incorporated to reduce plant height and lodging. Average rice yields commonly exceed 8,000 pounds per acre, with numerous examples of individual field yields exceeding 13,000 pounds per acre. About 62 percent of rice acreage was planted to hybrids in 2016, which poses challenges in terms of grain quality but presents opportunities for those growers to achieve higher yield potential. 

Dr. Lloyd T. (Ted) Wilson is a professor, center director and Jack B. Wendt Endowed Chair in rice research with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He can be reached at RICE FARMING • FEBRUARY 2017




By 1966, rice was here to stay Early rice pioneers had to overcome doubting lenders and agronomic challenges to pave the way for today’s successful Mississippi rice industry. By Bobby R. Golden and Jason A. Bond


Early pioneers Taking a look back, the first acknowledgment should be to the rice farmers. Many of the patriarchs of influential Mississippi rice-growing families were in their heyday approximately 50 years ago. Most of the pioneers faced difficult challenges establishing their crops with varieties not suited for Mississippi Delta “Buckshot soils” and uncooperative bankers who were hesitant to loan money on a then-unproven crop. These men fought the obstacles and persisted when many in the Mississippi Delta thought rice would never endure as a viable crop. Nevertheless, many of the rice farms started by these pioneers willing to risk everything are still successful today and are as second- or third-generation family farms. We in the rice industry owe a great debt of gratitude to these visionaries for without them, Mississippi rice would look vastly different today. Many aspects of production have evolved over the past 50 years and have shaped Mississippi rice culture into what we recognize today. Two of the more notable changes were the adoption of the direct-seeded, delayed-flood production method and precision-graded straight-levee rice fields. These adaptations have altered every other input in the modern rice production system. Prior to the late 1970s, most rice acres were sown by aircraft. But with changes in machinery by the mid-1980s, the tide had turned to drill-seeded rice. With today’s precision-guided




ifty years ago in 1966 marked the 18th year of farmscale rice production in Mississippi since the first crop was established in 1948 near Greenville. During the 1960s, cotton was king in the Mississippi Delta, but rice was gaining traction as a profitable crop and was here to stay. Since that time, numerous changes have occurred in rice production, management and marketing. We hope to provide a small glimpse into the changes that have shaped the landscape of rice production in Mississippi. This article would have been extraordinarily difficult to write were it not for two books that detail and preserve the history of rice production in the state: “Rice in Mississippi” (1987) by Rex Kimbriel and “Rice in the Mississippi Delta” (2005) by James E. Smith. These are two great reads for anyone interested in rice production and learning more about the crop’s history in the state.

Rex Kimbriel, pictured here in a late 1950s photo, has been credited with being the first commercial rice producer in Mississippi. The MSU longgrain variety, Rex, is named after the pioneering Kimbriel.

tractors and air drills, more than 90 percent of Mississippi rice acreage is drill-seeded. The advent of precision landforming practices during the early 1980s influenced Mississippi rice production tremendously, allowing for straight-levee rice fields that improve water management and harvest logistics. The majority of Mississippi rice today is produced using the precision-graded straight-levee system. RICEFARMING.COM

Submit a nomination for the 2017 Rice Consultant of the Year Award.

Mike Litton, one of a pioneering group of Mississippi producers, grew 176 acres of Bluebonnet yielding 97.6 bushels (green weight) per acre in 1966. He had cut as much as 125 bushels per acre. He also had 500 acres of soybeans, which cut 30-31 bushels per acre in 1966.

Varietal improvements Aside from seeding method and land forming, varietal improvement and new advances in crop protection chemistry have positively influenced rice yields in Mississippi. Although many varieties have come and gone over the past 50 years, a few have been extremely popular in Mississippi. Chronologically, Mississippi producers have preferred Starbonnet, Lemont, Newbonnet, Cocodrie and Rex. The release of Rex marked the first time a Mississippi-developed variety garnered the majority of conventional rice acreage. The 2000s brought both hybrid and Clearfield technologies to varieties that since commercialization, have garnered the most of the rice acreage. Many of today’s rice herbicides were developed within the past 50 yars, the most notable being Facet, Command, Regiment, Newpath and Clincher. The release of Agrotain brought a useful tool to manage nitrogen fertilizer loss on difficult-to-flood fields and is used on nearly all preflood urea applications today. One would not consider growing a rice crop without these chemistries. Research and Extension growth In 1958, the Mississippi Legislature ap-

propriated funds for a separate and formal rice project to be established. With the appointment of Dr. H. Rouse Caffey, fulltime rice research was initiated at the Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center (DREC) in Stoneville. Since Caffey’s initial appointment, the DREC has employed 16 research scientists with rice responsibility over the years. Output from each of these individuals programs has helped increase state average rice yields to 166 bushels (75 hundredweight) per acre from 101 bushels (45.5 cwt) per acre over the past 50 years. On the Extension side, the DREC has housed eight rice specialists who have all led efforts to extend knowledge gained through experimentation to the rice producer. The research and Extension effort has increased over the years and could not be accomplished without the financial support and direction from the Mississippi Rice Promotion Board. Founded in 1981, the board consists of 12 appointed individuals who help determine allocation of checkoff dollars. To all that have come before, your contributions have made rice production in Mississippi what it is today, and we hope the next 50 years will advance our industry as far as we have over the last half century.

Dr. Bobby Golden is Mississippi State University Extension/research rice specialist based at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss. He may be reached at bgolden@drec.msstate. edu. Dr. Jason Bond is MSU Extension/research weed specialist, also based at the DREC. He may be reached at TWITTER: @RICEFARMING

Recognize an outstanding consultant or pest control advisor (PCA) for their dedication, leadership and innovation in the U.S. rice industry. For more information, go to

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Une évolution de riz (A rice evolution)

Ag policy, technology and breeding have helped shape the Louisiana rice industry during the past five decades. By Bruce Schultz


rowing rice in Louisiana and the LSU Rice Research Station figured prominently in Rice Farming magazine 50 years ago, just as it does now. The magazine’s first issue featured farmer Rolland McCown of Jefferson Davis Parish with an article titled, “How McCown hit 42 barrels.” McCown grew two medium-grain varieties, Saturn, released by LSU in 1964, and Nato, a 1956 release by LSU. Medium-grain rice dominated Louisiana acreage in the 1960s, but long-grain varieties have since been the choice of most farmers.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder and director of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, says medium-grain varieties were higher yielding until the 1983 release of the long-grain variety Lemont, which had outstanding yield potential, good lodging resistance and quality. From that point, medium-grain no longer had a yield advantage, and a changing market made growing long-grain rice more attractive, Linscombe says. Continued on page 24


Fifty years ago, aerial applicators relied upon flaggers on the ground as reference points to line up passes. GPS has since replaced flaggers, allowing for more accurate and safer applications.




Industry News RiceTec, Adama ink pact for herbicide-tolerant hybrids Houston-based RiceTec and Adama Agricultural Solutions, an Israel-based crop protection company, plan to collaborate on development of herbicide-tolerant non-genetically engineered rice hybrids. The announcement of the FullPage Rice Cropping Solution, as the herbicide-tolerant rice hybrid system will be called, was made during the recent 20th Annual Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference in Baton Rouge, La. The agreement covers the development of ALS- and ACCase-tolerant rice hybrids. Pending regulatory approval, RiceTec hopes to have a limited launch of ALS-tolerant hybrids this fall for planting in 2018, says Brian Ottis, RiceTec solutions development lead. “It’s going to be a new proprietary trait different than what’s on the market today, and it will be exclusive to RiceTec,” he says. RiceTec hybrids tolerant to ACCase herbicides are at least three years away. Both the Clearfield trait, which imparts ALS herbicide resistance, and the Provisia trait, which imparts ACCase resistance, are from BASF Corp. In addition to a limited commercial

launch, RiceTec hopes to have several FullPage demonstration fields scattered across the Gulf Coast and Mid-South in 2018. The firm also plans to hold field days so growers can see the system’s performance firsthand.

The FullPage system will be paired with two ALS herbicides: Preface and PostScript from Adama. “The reason we partnered with Adama is they have a strong global footprint, and they operate in some of the same markets we do,” Ottis says. “Particularly in India and South America, they have a strong footprint as well as in the U.S., just not in rice.”

EPA registers active ingredient in Provisia herbicide The Environmental Protection Agency has granted a Section 3 registration for quizalofop-P-ethyl, the active ingredient in Provisia herbicide from BASF Corp., for use on Provisia rice. State registrations are pending. As part of the registration, the EPA will require that the registrant to develop an agreement that each user must sign similar to a binding contract. The agency also will require that the registrant develop herbicide resistance best management practices and promote those through grower education programs. “What we are going to provide is multiple methods for growers to be trained on stewardship,” says Nick Fassler, market manager, rice, for BASF, which will market Provisia herbicide. Part of the agreement contains strong language about not planting Provisia rice back to back in the same field. In addition, the registration requires an annual producer Twitter: @RiceFarming

Preface will be an imazethapyr with residual weed control. Postscript, which contains the active ingredient, imazamox, has foliar activity and is designed more as a clean-up product or to control escapes later in the season. The program will be based on two applications of the ALS herbicides as well as overlapping residuals and tankmix partners that have other modes of action. As with other herbicide-tolerant systems on the market, FullPage will carry a grower stewardship agreement, Ottis says. Both ALS herbicides are labeled for use in other crops, so Adama is seeking a label extension rather than a new registration. As a result, he says obtaining Environmental Protection Agency regulatory approval typically is easier. He expects that to occur late in the second quarter or first part of the third quarter of 2017. The FullPage trait is not a GMO, or genetically modified organism, but Canada still requires approval of all plant traits before they can be imported into that country. Canada currently is reviewing the FullPage trait. RiceTec will still offer Clearfield hybrids in the near term. Moving forward, future hybrid releases will feature the proprietary FullPage technology, Ottis says.

survey be conducted to ensure users are complying with stewardship agreements. The survey also will examine whether performance issues have been encountered and how growers responded. In trials, Fassler says a two-shot Provisia program worked the best. Growers start with a pre-emergence herbicide as they typically would for any rice crop. Then prior to flood, they would apply one application of Provisia, followed 10 days to two weeks later by a second one to pick up escapes or later-germinating grasses. Provisia only targets grasses, including red rice, weedy rice, outcrosses and F2 hybrids. So growers will need to apply other herbicides, either as a tankmix or sequentially, to control sedges and broadleaf weeds. Through testing, BASF has already identified several tankmix partners as well as a handful of products that could antagonize Provisia and reduce its effectiveness. BASF has targeted the 2018 season for launch of the Provisia Rice System. Obtaining a full registration was the first big hurdle, Fassler says. That opens up opportunities to grow seed increase fields during the 2017 season. RICE FARMING • FEBRUARY 2017


Continued from page 22

Ag policy influenced acreage In the next issue of the magazine in 1967, an article illustrates how rice farming 50 years ago was shaped by federal ag policy, just as the Farm Bill influences rice farming now. Back then, an allotment system was in place that limited U.S. production to 1.8 million acres of rice in 1967, with the largest portion for Louisiana at 520,000 acres, Texas with 465,000 and Arkansas at 439,000. Linscombe says the system led to some south Louisiana farmers buying allotments from other farmers and using them to grow rice on cleared land in north Louisiana. But he says the big acreage increase in north Louisiana came in 1973 when rice prices doubled. “That was great for farmers at the time,” he says. Those high prices prompted farmers in other states to push for changes in the system that led to Arkansas dramatically increasing its rice acreage. Rice Research Station expansion When Rice Farming magazine was first published, it was just four years after the Rice Research Station expanded by 320 acres with the acquisition of the South Farm, located 2 miles south of Crowley. The station opened in 1909 with land west of Crowley. In 1949, the station bought 720 acres of land northeast of Crowley, the site of the current station. The late Dr. Rouse Caffey, former LSU AgCenter chancellor, worked at the research facility from 1962 until 1970, and the station is now named the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in his memory. In 1972, Louisiana rice producers took




The Rice Farming article says McCown started harvesting his crop in August, averaging 10 acres a day. “With the help of his neighbors, he finished the job in about 45 days.” McCown had a ratoon crop of 5 barrels—or 810 pounds—per acre, bringing his total average yield for 1966 to 42 barrels, or 6,800 pounds. These days, a second-crop yield of more than 20 barrels is common. And in the exceptional year of 2015, some Louisiana farmers were cutting a second-crop yield that exceeded McCown’s first-crop harvest.

As the number of acres farmed by individuals and per-acre yields have grown, combine and header sizes also have increased to keep pace.

the initiative to have more research conducted, forming the Louisiana Rice Research Board. Growers agreed to a checkoff system to fund research projects. That program has generated more than $30 million in research projects. Linscombe says the check-off program provided a considerable boost to Louisiana rice research. “That has provided a substantial, dependable revenue stream, and that has allowed us to expand our breeding program,” he says. Variety development is a major part of the Rice Research Station’s mission. In total, a century of rice breeding at the station has resulted in 52 varieties, 38 in the past 50 years. The varieties developed at the station during the past 20 years dominate the southern U.S. rice growing regions. Clearfield technology developed at the station in the late 1990s resulted in rice varieties that enabled farmers in the United States and internationally to make considerable progress against red rice. The goals of breeders have not changed, Linscombe says. “What has really changed over 50 years is things are a lot more mechanized.”

25,000 rows in a day. The process of hand-harvesting and individually weighing and moisture testing rice has been replaced with automation by research combines that perform all the tasks. “Back then, to cut 50 plots in a day was good. But today we can cut 800,” Linscombe says. Most research also was restricted to the station 50 years ago. “Today we do much higher volume of yield testing here on the station, plus a huge amount of off-station testing in cooperation with farmers,” he says. “This is extremely important because when we are trying to decide on a variety release, the more environments you are able to evaluate that line in, the better decisions you are going to make.” Linscombe says the winter breeding nursery in Puerto Rico allows the LSU AgCenter to have a year-round breeding program. The use of DNA markers to determine if a line has desired characteristics has decreased the time required to develop a new variety. “It has made what we do more precise,” he says. 

Technology aided breeding, too Rice breeders in the 1960s would have been able to plant 4,000 to 5,000 experimental rows, but now they can plant

Bruce Schultz is an assistant communications specialist with the LSU AgCenter in Crowley, La. He may be reached at bschultz@agcenter. RICEFARMING.COM

Specialists Speaking

Make a written plan before the season starts DR. BOBBY R. GOLDEN MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY Extension Rice Specialist

By this time, most producers have booked seed and formulated a 2017 plan. One thing we often overlook is taking the time to write down that plan. A written plan allows for many things, but perhaps the most important is what generally plagues me the most—forgetfulness. Having a written plan will aid in not missing a crucial input during 2017. The written plan should include a sketch of the year and contingencies based upon what the environment may throw at us. An easy place to start is with your soil test binder. Most producers who are soil sampling end up with multiple binders for fields and/ or farms that are georeferenced, and they have a printout and overhead picture of every field. Instead of disregarding this information once soil fertilization decisions are made, let’s put it to good use. To start your binder, remove and catalog everything except the actual soil test value and as-applied maps. Only keep the as-applied maps if you put out fertilizer or are going to do so in the spring. The next information to add is a sheet containing essential information for the field. This includes land preparation, variety to be seeded, and seeding rate and depth, as well as locations to capture planting equipment and date and a place for emergence date. The next sheet is for herbicide and/or foliar spray applications. Put your predetermined tankmix applications in this space and allow room for deviation. The above items are part of your pre-

Maximize fertilizer efficiency with these rules DR. DUSTIN HARRELL LOUISIANA Extension Rice Specialist Nitrogen (N) fertilizer management in drill-seeded, delayed-flood rice is extremely important to maximize rice development and ultimately yield. In Louisiana, N fertilizer is recommended in a two-way split application, where two-thirds of the N is applied before flood establishment and the remaining one-third applied in the window between green ring and panicle differentiation (½-inch internode). The most important application time by far is the pre-flood application. When applying pre-flood N fertilizer, be sure to Twitter: @RiceFarming

determined plan and can be thought out prior to entering a field. Once the season begins, the binder should include a DD50 printout for each field as well as all scouting reports generated throughout the growing season. Another good option to include is an adjusted Mississippi Rice Planning budget so items can be checked off the list as applications are made to lend an up-to-date cost encumbrance for each field. For those who prefer digital recordkeeping, there are multiple productivity software platforms (Web-based applications or standalone) available that can accomplish the same task and allow for uploading scanned images of the previously mentioned documents.

Fertility, seedbed prep set tone for the season DR. JARROD HARDKE

ARKANSAS Assoc. Professor/Rice Extension Agronomist University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service It can’t be said often enough that preplant fertility and seedbed preparation set the tone for the entire growing season. A well-prepared, firm seedbed allows for uniform seed placement, which will in turn maximize the uniformity of germination, emergence and the stand. A stale seedbed approach where the field is prepared in advance of planting can often provide preferred planting conditions; however, extended time between soil preparation and planting typically results in the need for burndown herbicide applications. follow theserules to maximize fertilizer efficiency: 1. Only use ammonium or ammonium-forming N fertilizers like urea or ammonium sulfate. 2. Apply N fertilizer on dry ground. If that is not possible, apply on a moist soil and treat urea with NBPT. If fertilizer must be applied into standing water, revert to a spoon-feeding (three- or four-application) scenario and do not treat urea with NBPT. 3. Flood the field as soon as possible after application. If flooding takes more than three days on a high pH field or five days on other fields, treat urea with NBPT. 4. Be sure not to lose the flood for at least three weeks after flooding or additional N may be needed. If these rules are followed, N use efficiency of rice and yield potential will be maximized. One last note: if rice begins to show signs of N deficiency (leaves turning yellow from the bottom up), be sure to apply N fertilizer as soon as possible. Do not wait for mid-season or your next planned application time. Remember, a plant that is under stress of any kind is continuously losing yield potential until that stress is corrected. RICE FARMING • FEBRUARY 2017


Specialists Speaking Preplant fertilization using proper soil testing sets up a field to achieve maximum production levels. Maintaining recommended levels of phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) provide long-term benefits. Relatively speaking, the nutrient that a plant has the least of is the one that is most limiting yield. Although P and K fertility are typically well respected as a part of the NPK trinity, Zn fertility is often improper on lighter soils. On soils with pH over 6.0, granular Zn at 10 pounds of actual Zn per acre is recommended when soil test values are below 4 parts per million. This recommendation is partly due to zinc’s lack of mobility in the soil after application (it sits where it hits). This application allows for adequate plant available Zn across the entire field and builds soil Zn levels. Zn seed treatments alone are not enough to combat low Zn soils but provide insurance. In some instances where soil test Zn levels are marginal, the use of a Zn seed treatment and a granular Zn product with a low rate but uniform distribution may be adequate to prevent deficiencies, but they should be used with care. With low soil test Zn levels, it’s usually found to be much cheaper to put out 10 pounds Zn rather than to risk other methods and still end up fighting a deficiency.

Consider insecticidal seed treatments for all plantings DR. M.O. “MO” WAY TEXAS Rice Research Entomologist

We like rain, but too much of a good thing can be bad as we saw last year. So “make hay while the sun shines,” which translates to preparing ground any time there is a dry window of opportunity. Planting date is critical for Southeast Texas. Farmers are planting earlier and earlier with typically good results, particularly if they want a ratoon crop. I also recommend an insecticidal seed treatment. You can pick from CruiserMaxx Rice, Dermacor X-100 or NipsIt INSIDE. CruiserMaxx Rice contains three fungicides to help with seedling diseases. NipsIt INSIDE and Dermacor X-100 do not contain fungicides, but you can add them to both. Each seed treatment has its own advantages. Consult your local rice entomologist for more details. I know you don’t want to consider replanting at this time—replanting is a dirty word. But this spring, if you absolutely must replant, I recommend treating your replant seed with an insecticide, even though you treated your originally planted seed. We did a multi-year study evaluating the cost/benefits of treating replant seed with an insecticide. Economically it is a no-brainer—treat replant seed with an insecticide. If you want the details, contact me at 409-658-2186 or I can’t emphasize enough the value of testing your soil for P and K. If you have not done this relatively simple task, I strongly encourage you to do so ASAP.



You should also test your soil for zinc. P-deficient rice results in stunting, reduced tillering, delayed maturity and yield reduction. K-deficient rice is light green with rust-colored spots on the foliage. Zn-deficient rice is chlorotic, and weakened plants float on the water surface. Affected plants take on a bronze appearance. N recommendations are based on myriad factors including soil type, variety, planting date and ratoon capability. Thus, I refer you to Dr. Fugen Dou at the Beaumont Center for more information on N management. Contact him at

Review crop’s N, P and K needs before planting DR. BRUCE LINQUIST CALIFORNIA UCCE Rice Specialist

There has been an increasing trend of making a top-dress N application—usually at panicle initiation or PI. Although top-dress N applications are not necessarily a bad thing, they are often unnecessary. Top-dressing N is expensive as it requires an airplane and a more expensive form of N fertilizer. Top-dress N applications are needed if the plant is N deficient at PI. N deficiency typically shows up as yellowing of leaves—with increasing yellowness on lower leaves. Under these circumstances, additional N is absolutely necessary to achieve optimal yields. Research conducted both on-station and on-farm has shown that if an adequate amount of N is applied at planting, a top dress is not needed to achieve maximum yields. If you are constantly needing to make a top-dress N application at PI, you might want to consider increasing your preplant N rate. With regards to phosphorus (P) fertilizer, we recommend a maintenance application of P if soil P test (Olsen-P test) values are between 6 and 15 ppm. A maintenance P application, which replaces the P removed by harvested grain, can be determined by using our calculator at This tool also will help with other P management decisions. If you have algae problems, the P can be applied up to 30 days after planting, which helps reduce algae-related problems as the rice plants have come through the water surface by this time. Applications of P within this 30-day window do not negatively affect yields. Consider potassium (K) fertilizer if your soil K levels are below 120 ppm. If you do not have soil tests, it is more likely that you will need to apply K if you remove rice straw from your field (rice straw contains about 1.4 percent K) or if your field is east of the Sacramento River. The rate required to correct K deficiencies has not been thoroughly studied in California and will differ based on soil type. Additional information on nutrient management as well as other crop management topics can be found at RICEFARMING.COM

RF0217 Layout_CF 11/13 template 2/6/17 2:25 PM Page 2

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