Unusually excessive rainfall and cloudy days have been a challenge for growing rice, but it’s too early to become pessimistic about this year’s crop, according to the director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station at Crowley, La.
“We’ve still got the potential for a good crop,” said Steve Linscombe, also a rice breeder, talking at the Acadia Parish rice field day held June 16.
Linscombe said the silver lining to the cloudy weather has been mild night temperatures that foster good rice development. He said the long-term forecast calls for moderate night temperatures.
He said blast disease is a concern with the wet weather, especially for Jupiter and CL151, varieties that will require fungicides.
Linscombe also said he is optimistic that an agreement to sell rice to China is close to being finalized, and that could boost rice prices. “They want U.S. rice,” he said.
Water and soil contamination issues in China have caused some consumers there to look to U.S. rice as a safer alternative to the domestically produced product, he said.
LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said just talk of a big corn purchase by China has driven prices up by 30 cents to 50 cents a bushel.
Guidry said the long-term forecast for rice is not encouraging, but a possible acreage reduction in Arkansas could help reduce rice stockpiles.
Prices are low because of low demand and high supply, he said.
Exports of long-grain rice are up by 9 percent from last year, Guidry said. “They just haven’t been good enough to support a price increase.”
Exports of medium-grain rice have dropped by a fourth to a third from last year, and the medium-grain prices have fallen, Guidry said.
The low prices could mean that rice farmers enrolled in the Price Loss Coverage program in the current farm bill could receive as much as $93 to $103 per acre, he said.
Rice farmers got the chance to hear from Adam Famoso, the new rice breeder at the Rice Research Station. He was a rice researcher for Dupont Pioneer in Iowa before joining the LSU AgCenter.
“I think Adam is going to be a very valuable addition to our team,” Linscombe said.
Linscombe said he has a medium-grain Clearfield line in development that could be accepted by Kellogg’s. He also has 18 lines of the Provisia rice that probably will result in one or two candidates that could become a variety.
He also has a Clearfield long-grain line with the yield potential of CL151 and better resistance to blast and lodging with improved grain quality. The line, LA2134, could be a release for 2016, and a 20-acre seed increase is being grown now at the Rice Research Station.
AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster said this year’s wet weather has caused problems with the use of the herbicide Prowl in rice that has been broadcast seeded. The seeding method doesn’t result in uniform seed-to-soil contact and remains in the wet conditions and it develops a root system slowly.
Webster said the rice weed program has 70 trials at the Rice Research Station and at the LSU AgCenter Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph, La.
Ben McKnight, Webster’s research associate and a doctoral student, talked about the use of benzobicyclon for aquatic weeds. He said the Gowan product is probably the best material available for ducksalad.
AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said the rainy weather has caused problems for many farmers. But in northeast Louisiana, some fields have required irrigation, while some soybeans in northwest Louisiana along the Red River have been flooded.
Elsewhere, rainy weather has prevented many farmers from planting soybeans. “In southwest Louisiana we probably have the worst conditions,” Levy said.
More herbicide-resistant soybeans are becoming available, he said. “They are going to be the future of soybean production.”
Guidry said soybean prices have fallen because of a large supply, but demand in China remains high.