Farmers considering taking the plunge on furrow-irrigated or row rice should plan to avoid blast-susceptible rice varieties, according to Dustin Harrell, Extension rice specialist with the LSU AgCenter.
“Rice farmers know that if you want to get blast disease, drain the water off your rice,” he said. “Sheath blight is a disease that can reduce your yields by 30 percent. With blast, you’re lucky if you have 30 percent of your crop left when it’s done.”
Speaking at a Row Rice Production meeting in Rayville, La., Dr. Harrell displayed a list of rice varieties and hybrids recommended for Louisiana in a slide. As he removed varieties that are susceptible to blast or not suitable for row rice; i.e., medium grain, the list grew smaller and smaller until only two rice hybrids and Catahoula were left.
Both Dr. Harrell and Dr. Steve Crawford, a retired weed scientist and crop consultant who also spoke at the Rayville meeting, said growers should consider sticking to hybrid rice when they’re just starting out with furrow-irrigated rice.