Rice Research Station Field Day attracts large crowd to see new varieties, technology

The first of July was a red letter day for Steve Linscombe. In the space of about five hours, Dr. Linscombe, rice breeder for the LSU Rice Research Station at Crowley, La., briefed growers on several potential new rice varieties, welcomed hundreds of visitors to the station’s annual field day and helped introduce two of the state’s leading candidates for governor to attendees.

And when Linscombe took time out for an interview with Delta Farm Press at the end of the festivities, one of the first things he talked about was the Louisiana rice industry’s support of the station and the hard work of the researchers, research associates and permanent staff at the Rice Research Station.

“I think the Louisiana rice industry, whether that is producers, consultants, our milling partners – we even had representatives who work with Kellogg’s who came down specifically for the field day – is very supportive of the research efforts of our scientists here on the station,” he said. “And I think that’s because these people give a lot.

“One thing you see here at the station is that our work hours are 8 to 4:30, but we have people that show up at 5:30 or 6 o’clock in the morning at various times of the year, and a lot of them the year round. You have to have a pretty good work ethic, a lot of dedication and enjoy what you do to have that kind of attitude.”

It’s not that this has been an easy year to prepare for the field day, which is held annually in late June or early July – far from it.

“I started counting on March 1 because that’s basically when we started planting rice, and we have had well over 35 inches of rain since that time,” said Dr. Linscombe, who also serves as resident director of the station and director of the LSU AgCenter’s Southwest Region.

“It has been an issue to deal with. It was an issue for us to get planted just as it was for the industry. But above and beyond that it was an issue to get herbicides out, especially with a ground rig; it was an issue to get our fertilizer out. We had a lot of nitrogen fertilizer that went out on muddy ground or even into the water, which is not what we want to do. But you just deal with what you have to deal with.”

Dr. Linscombe singled out LA 2134 as one of the most promising rice varieties now under development at the Station. “We’re looking at that as a replacement for CL 151, which has been a mainstay variety for us for almost 10 years now,” he noted.

“In an average year, if we ever have one, 151 is a very good, very high-yielding variety, but if you go back to 2012 where we had a significant problem with blast (disease) that particular variety is susceptible to blast. The new line, LA 2134, has a much higher level of blast resistance. So if we end up with a year with more blast pressure, 2134 will be a more stable variety.”

In those years when rice blast is significant, Linscombe says, growers should not have to put out as many as two fungicide applications at a combined cost of $45 or more per acre to protect the high yield of the LA 2134 variety.

“The other positive is that CL151 has a tendency to lodge more than we would like to see,” he noted. “LA 2134 appears to have more lodging resistance. It also has better grain quality, especially regarding chalk. When we have hot growing conditions, we can see more chalk in 151 than we like to see.”

During the “inside” presentations at the field day, Linscombe and Dr. Bill Richardson, vice president for agriculture at LSU, introduced Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, both of whom are candidates for governor in this fall’s elections.

Both promised to continue to support Louisiana agriculture.

For more on the chalk issue in rice, visit http://text.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/research_stations/Rice/Features/Publications/Rice-Quality-and-Impacts-on-Marketability.htm

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