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Archive for the ‘Farm visits’ Category

It’s funny how when you work a field crop, life eventually moves in a pretty predictable cycle. Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to start scouting for rice stink bugs in headed rice, although it does seem to be coming a little bit earlier than usual. This is probably a result of very early planting of rice in some parts of south Louisiana. Unfortunately, field conditions are favoring a bad year for stink bugs. The drought conditions have killed off grasses that would normally serve as a host/reservoir for stink bugs, so there is a chance they will move more readily into heading rice. Recent reports from Arkansas and Mississippi indicate that large populations of rice stink bugs are present in the mid-south. We are already finding them in headed rice fields at the rice research station in Crowley, La.

Last Friday, Johnny Saichuk and I scouted a variety trial in Vermilion Parish where the CL111 was heading first and was already infested with rice stink bugs.

Rice stinkbugs are light tan in color with points on the corners of the pronotum.

I received a call about the field because they noticed quite a bit of blanking in the panicles. They also found a high population of grasshoppers and suspected they may have been causing injury.

Longhorned grasshopper adult in heading rice. You can tell it is an adult because of the wings.

When we assessed the situation, Johnny determined that the blanking was most likely physiological, some sort of effect of weather conditions when the rice was at panicle development (pd). You can read more about it in his field notes. If you don’t receive Johnny Saichuk’s Field Notes via e-mail, please send Johnny an e-mail to be added to his list: jsaichuk@agcenter.lsu.edu. As we examined the grasshopper situation, we found that the grasshoppers were long-horned grasshoppers, which are typically predators. We would not recommend treating for grasshoppers unless they are causing excessive defoliation. Click here to read more about long-horned grasshoppers in rice. Odds are that they were attracted by the rice stink bugs, which we did find to be abundant in the field. We advised holding off on an insecticide application until the rice reached 50% heading. It is very tempting to put out a pyrethroid with the fungicide application at early-heading, but research has shown that this is too early to prevent injury. Putting out an early application will probably just add to the number of times you need to spray the field, while not providing any additional protection. To learn more about rice stink bug management click here.

We have a graduate student, Bryce Blackman, who is currently studying rice stink bugs for his dissertation research. One aspect of his work is to re-evaluate treatment thresholds. At the moment, we continue to use the standard recommendations. To scout for rice stink bugs in the field, use a 15-inch diameter sweep net, take 10 sweeps at 10 different areas around each field. Count the number of bugs collected after every 10 sweeps. In the first two weeks of heading, treat fields when there are 30 or more bugs per 100 sweeps. Pesticides that can be used include malathion, methyl parathion and a variety of pyrethroids including Declare, Karate Z, Mustang Max, Prolex and a number of generics. From the dough stage until two weeks before harvest, treat fields when there are 100 bugs per 100 sweeps. When approaching two weeks before harvest, you can treat with any of the chemicals listed above with the exception of Karate Z and Prolex, which have 21 day pre-harvest intervals. You can learn more about rice stink bug biology by clicking here.

Resistance to pyrethroids has been increasing in Texas, and there is a chance that we could have some issues with resistance developing in Louisiana also. If you have a field where you are finding it particularly difficult to control the rice stink bugs with your traditional control strategies, please contact me so we can sample the insect population. If you have further questions about rice stink bug management, please contact your local County Agent.

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On Friday, Nick and I made the trek to West Carroll Parish in north Louisiana to scout a rice field that Richard Costello had called me about on Thursday. The field was initially thought to be suffering from herbicide drift injury.

Field infested with thrips.

LSU AgCenter County Agent Myrl Sistrunk had called Weed Scientist Bill Williams out to investigate. Upon a detailed inspection they found a damaging infestation of thrips.

The thrips could easily be found on virtually every plant we inspected. The best scouting method for thrips is to visually inspect plants. The thrips were often found on the leaf sheath near the collar or inside the leaf sheath.

Thrip on leaf blade near collar - this is a typical location to find them on the plant.

They will quickly run/hop when disturbed. You can also tap plants onto a white sheet of paper and look for the thrips on the paper.

Thrip on rice leaf blade.

I learned first-hand that they will in fact “bite” you with their rasping mouthparts. They annoyed us for most of the ride home. Thrips injure plants by using a scraping mouthpart to macerate (tear) the leaf tissue. They then extract the plant liquids. This causes desiccation and would typically not be a problem, except for the dry, windy conditions we are experiencing this season.

Thrip feeding injury on a rice leaf. In many cases there were streaks of white near the leaf tip.

I have not had the chance to confirm the species yet, but it looks like they may be tobacco thrips. The infestation and plant damage in this particular field is disconcerting because the field is CruiserMaxx treated hybrid planted at a 25 pound seeding rate. The situation is complicated by the fact that the field has received about 10 inches of rain since planting. This was received in five separate rain events.

 The field started to head south after a flush was applied about a week ago. At this point the field is very dry and plants appear to be desiccating and stressed from the thrips feeding on the leaves. The field isn’t ready to hold a flood yet. We could not find any natural enemies in the field, and due to the ongoing injury caused by the thrips feeding I recommended a pyrethroid application to knock back the thrips population and buy some time before flood.

Also, the lack of apparent activity against the thrips caused some concern about the ability of the CruiserMaxx to provide effective control of rice water weevil larvae after application of permanent flood.  They may consider a second application of pyrethroid at permanent flood if weevil adults are present in the field. Overall the field still has a good stand of rice, which appears to be thicker than many hybrid rice fields I have scouted this season.

On our way back to Baton Rouge we took the levee road and witnessed the Morganza Spillway flooded with water.

You can see in this picture how close the water came to the top of the levee - just south of Vidalia, north of Blackhawk Farm.

We also saw some deer grazing in a soybean field that was mostly flooded. If you’ve read Johnny Saichuk’s field note for this week you’ll notice that we observed the same herd of deer. Apparently they are well-settled in this field. It looks like whatever the water doesn’t take, the deer will finish off.  

I have more pictures to share, but I don’t have the files with me at the moment.

Also, this week I had reports of sugarcane beetles, armyworms, chinch bugs, and colaspis in Louisiana rice. Many of these early-season insect pests should go away as we approach permanent flood. Then we’ll need to make sure good plans are in place for rice water weevil management.

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 I lived in Texas for a couple of years before I moved over to Louisiana. Lately it seems that all my field calls have been pulling me back in that direction, but I haven’t managed to have an bbq yet. Although I did have a delicious BLT with egg for breakfast. I never would have thought of that combination – Cajuns truly are the most creative and talented cooks I have ever known.
 
Today we started off with the Vermilion Parish Rice Grower’s mtg at Suire’s Grocery before heading out to scout rice fields in Calcasieu Parish. We had a great turn out at the meeting. Dr. Saichuk and I discussed observations we have made so far this season. Saichuk’s comments concentrated on herbicide drift problems, the dry conditions causing all sorts of trouble and some other general issues with some varieties. I discussed the seed treatments, trouble with chinch bugs, colaspis, and what we have going for the rice water weevil demonstration this season.
 
After the meeting we headed over to Lacassine to meet Benet Augustine. Benet had called on Thursday to report some strange problems with rice – the heart of the mother tiller was dying in young rice and the dead new leaf could be easily pulled out of the plant because it was severed at the base. There also appeared to be some chewing at the base. We tried to puzzle it out over the phone. Soon after, Dr. Saichuk and Barrett Courville visited the field and found rice levee bill bugs – an application of Karate was applied before the rain storm and we could not find any living bill bugs – actually none at all – during our scouting visit today. The lack of insects caused me to be uncertain of whether the bill bugs had been responsible for the rice injury. A few fields later we found another bill bug infestation near Iowa and caught them “red-handed” causing the same injury as Benet had observed. So that mystery was solved. Following are some pictures of the bill bugs and the associated injury they can cause to seedling rice. This was my first time collecting them in a rice field. They have caused significant stand reduction at both sites – both were treated with Dermacor X-100, and both were hybrids planted following a fallow season.
  

Bill bug injury field shot. Note the thin areas in the stand.

Bill bug stand reduction in hybrid rice.

 

Bill bug feeding injury in the leaf sheath near the base of plant (the plant is upside down in this picture).

A bill bug feeding near the base of the plant – they like to be upside down for some reason.

Here is where we observed a bill bug feeding. You can see that he has his “snout” is embedded into the leaf sheath. Bill bugs belong to the beetle family Curculionidae (weevils) and are a relative of the rice water weevil. Their chewing mouthparts are found at the end of a long “snout”. The bill bug feeding appears to be injuring the heart of the tiller, causing death of the new leaf. This explains the severed end when the dead leaf is pulled out of the leaf sheath. I saw this injury last season in Calcasieu Parish but was never able to catch the culprit.

We commonly found the bill bugs burrowed in at the soil line, or about half an inch above the soil line on the plant.

We found a pair of bill bugs mating near the soil line.

Red arrow: bill bug and yellow arrow: rice water weevil adult. Demonstrating relative size by comparison to a buck knife blade.

We recommended treating with 2 oz of Karate to prevent further injury from the bill bug. This field is particularly vulnerable because of the low seeding rate. The stand is already marginal and we hope some of the plants recover from the injury. Karate was used at another field location (as described above) and it appeared to be effective.

Next we looked at a field with the most severe infestation of chinch bugs I have ever witnessed. The field of CL151 was drilled at 70 lb/acre with Dermacor X-100 and a fungicide package. The soil was moist and in some places there was standing water – from this morning’s rain storm. Unfortunately it looked like our nice rain storm this morning did nothing to decrease the chinch bug population. In the higher elevations of the field we had no trouble locating high populations of chinch bugs below the soil and feeding on the roots of the plants. It was easy to spot the injury from the truck.

The “windshield view” of chinch bug injury in a field of CL151 in Calcasieu Parish.

In this field the injury was not progressing in from the edges as we typically expect with chinch bug injury (refer to posting of injury in Evangeline Parish in the 2010 field season). The consultant (Randy Verret) found it as he walked across the field and started to find patches of dead/dying plants. Upon further inspection, Randy found chinch bugs of all stages attacking the plants. The injury is clustered in patches across the field.

Healthy rice plants that are just starting to show injury, bordered by dead and dying rice plants. What is happening is the chinch bugs are moving from dead plants to healthy plants. Most of the dead plants had almost no roots left – they were easy to pull out of the ground. The chinch bugs appear to be feeding on the roots and also on the leaf sheaths near the soil line.

As we pulled up dead and dying plants, we found hordes of chinch bugs in the soil near the roots. This field was infested with all life stages of chinch bugs, ranging from nymphs to adults. Recall that chinch bugs have incomplete development – thus they shed their skin to grow to the next life stage and each stage looks different in appearance from the other. All stages feed on rice plants and have the ability to cause injury.

First instar chinch bugs are bright orange in color with a tan band on the back.

Chinch bug adult at base of plant – note the black and white color pattern that gives the appearance of an hourglass. We also found mating pairs of adults.

In light of such a severe infestation and ongoing plant death, we recommended an application of a pyrethroid as soon as possible to prevent further stand injury. After application of permanent flood this rice will be protected from rice water weevil injury by the Dermacor X-100 seed treatment. If everything was prepared to go to permanent flood immediately, that would probably be sufficient. Flooding removes the chinch bugs from the root zone of the plant, preventing further injury. In this particular field it will be about a week before permanent flood is established and I fear that the chinch bug injury could progress quickly during that time. Aggressive scouting and a quick response will hopefully save this stand from further reduction. I hoped that the rain we had this morning (in some cases near 4 inches) would halt the chinch bug problems, but as you can see here, that does not appear to be the case. Vigilant monitoring is still needed.

Tomorrow we will plant our final rice water weevil demonstration site in Avoyelles Parish.

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This morning I admired the moon setting over University Lakes on my way into campus. Wait a minute, I was biking into campus by moonlight? Yep, a sure sign of field season – early mornings and long (but exciting) days. Today we headed down to Jefferson-Davis Parish to scout a couple of fields that were suffering from stand loss due to an unknown cause. In one location we are still trying to determine the cause. In the second field we scouted we confirmed a fairly severe colaspis infestation. We met with Farmer Kyle Fontenot, Consultant Ron Smith and Nicky Miller at the field which is located between Hathaway and Elton.
 

Kyle Fontenot, Anna, Nicky Miller, and Ron Smith. Note that Kyle and Nicky were both on their iPhones connecting with me on the blog and facebook.

 
Within a few minutes of digging we had no trouble finding many plants with colaspis larvae feeding on the roots, causing the plants to decline and eventually die.

Stand reduction in a hybrid rice field that was caused by colaspis larvae feeding on the roots of the plants.

 

We typically found the larvae on dying plants approximately 2 inches below the soil line.
A colaspis larva.
A colaspis pupa near the tip of a knife blade to give you an idea of the size.
 

 

It is worth noting the history of this particular field. In 2010 it was used as cattle pasture. To prepare the field for rice, the farmer plowed in the fall, burned the vegetation (with fire) in December/January, then plowed again, and finally plowed, shanked, and fertilized before planting. Rice was broadcast and then packed. The planting method made it even harder to determine the cause of injury because we did not observe the typical loss of plants along a drill row that we have seen in the past with colaspis infestations.

Visit this website for more information on the biology and scouting for colaspis in rice: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/rice/Insects/LSU+AgCenter+Rice+Training+Session+How+to+Scout+for+Grape+Colaspis+in+Rice.htm

This field was planted with hybrid rice seed that was treated with Apron, Maxim, Dynasty and Dermacor X-100. Dermacor has a registration for suppression of colaspis and previous research has indicated it will provide about 40% control. It is possible the injury would have been worse without the Dermacor X-100 treatment. If CruiserMaxx or NipsitInside would have been used, then we probably would not have experienced this much stand reduction. Dermacor was selected because of the history of rice water weevil pressure at the field site. It was determined that a replant was not necessary. At this point, the only option is to bring a light pin-point flood to hopefully stop the feeding of the colaspis larvae and prevent further injury of the rice.

I suspect that the colaspis problems may be more widespread. After they left this field Ron Smith called to say that they also found colaspis in another nearby field. I’ll be back down that way next week to further investigate the situation.

 

 

 
 

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On Friday I headed out to scout rice in Jeff Davis Parish with County Agent Barrett Courville and Consultant Rustin Gilder. We scouted a field where Rustin had found a single colaspis larva. After much time spent digging, we were not able to locate any additional larvae. Unfortunately with this pest, that is not confirmation that it was/is not in the field. The larvae may have pupated and emerged as adults, or we may have simply been searching in the wrong area in the field.

A video on how to scout for colaspis in rice can be accessed by clicking here.

The farmer planned to bring permanent flood soon. No insecticide seed treatments had been applied to the seed. Thus, due to the reduced stand from a combination of factors (poor germination, dry conditions, and probably colaspis injury), we advised using a pyrethroid to prevent further injury from rice water weevils. Rice water weevils were already active in the field, as indicated by feeding scars on the leaves. To further complicate matters, there are crawfish ponds nearby. To avoid pesticide drift on the crawfish ponds, we suggested using mustang impregnated on fertilizer both before and after application of permanent flood (based on scouting for adults after permanent flood). A strategy to control rice water weevils is particularly important in this situation, where the stand will be thin at the time of permanent flood and weevils are already actively feeding in the field. When the stand is thin, there tends to be a more severe infestation of rice water weevils.

During my discussions with the consultants and producers we met in the field, it sounds like a lot of rice is at or near permanent flood is southwest Louisiana. Many of the consultants also reported that rice water weevils were present in most of the fields. If you used a seed treatment (CruiserMaxx, Dermacor X-100 or NipsitInside) your rice should be protected from injury due to rice water weevil larvae feeding on the roots.

Keep in mind that if you plan to use a pyrethroid to control rice water weevils, it is important that the timing of the application is correct. The pyrethroid chemistries have a window of activity of about two to three days under ideal conditions. We recommend scouting for the presence of adults and/or feeding scars.

A video on how to scout for rice water weevils in rice can be accessed by clicking here.

Rice water weevil adult on a rice leaf.

Rice water weevil adult feeding scars. If these are present, then weevils are or were in the field.

If adults and/or feeding scars are present in the field you may consider using a pyrethroid to control the adults before they have a chance to lay eggs. Adult rice water weevils mate on the plants, and then the females swim below the surface of the water to lay their eggs in the leaf sheath below the water line. This is why it is important to kill the adults before they have a chance to lay eggs. Once the larvae hatch from the egg mass and swim down to the soil level to attack the rice roots, they can no longer be effectively controlled by a pyrethroid insecticide spray. Rice water weevils impact yield by feeding directly on the roots of the rice plants, causing pruning and negatively impacting the ability of the plant to take up soil nutients and produce an optimal yield.
 
Please contact your local County Agent for more information about rice water weevil management in Louisiana.
As a final note, please send me an e-mail if you find aphids or armyworms in rice in Louisiana. We need specimens for our laboratory colonies in Baton Rouge.

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It’s almost that time of year again.  Today Anna and I met with County Agent Keith Fontenot and Evangeline Parish farmer Kenneth LaHaye to discuss plans for the 2011 rice water weevil demonstration test.  Kent Guillory is the consultant who will assist with monitoring this test location.

Mr. Kenneth LaHaye, County Agent Keith Fontenot, and me discussing plans for the demo test in Evangeline Parish.

This will be the third year that we have worked with Kenneth (and his dog Harley) on a demo test site. We appreciate his continuing support of our on-farm demonstration program. The last two years we worked with Kenneth near Chicot Lake.  This year, our test site is located near Vidrine on La-10. We will provide directions to the field after planting.

Kenneth's dog Harley - she makes for great company in farm work.

In the 2011 rww demonstration test we will restrict our insecticides to the three different seed treatments that are now available on the market.  These will be compared to an untreated check.  The table below compares these products:

Kenneth will be planting RiceTec variety XL745 at a 25 pound per acre seeding rate.  The seed treatments will be arranged in two blocks, with one rep in each block.  Each rep will include two 20 ft drill passes.  We intend to plant sometime between March 12 and 15, if the weather cooperates.  Kenneth has already prepared the land for planting.   A herbicide burndown of 32 oz/acre generic roundup and 2 oz/acre Valor was applied in November, 2010.  When looking at the field we noticed some areas where his burndown did not provide control.

The weedy strips in the field are the result of tapping the boom and turning off an outside nozzle.

Kenneth asked us to post this picture to illustrate how effective a burndown put out in November can be. The missed passes in the field are the perfect example of what he could have been fighting as he prepared to plant, had he decided to wait until spring to apply his burndown.  Last season Kenneth grew soybeans in this field.  Rice will be drilled into the stale seedbed at around 25 pounds per acre.  This soybean-rice rotation can sometimes be conducive to injury from the colaspis beetle.  We’ll be sure to monitor for injury from this pest when we take stand counts two weeks after emergence.

(All photos taken by Anna Meszaros).

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Today I scouted some rice with County Agents Rob Ferguson and Trent in Avoyelles Parish.  We visited the Big Horn Farm Partnership which is farmed by two brothers Chris and Randy Dauzat.  They have a beautiful operation.  I saw a few interesting things that I thought you might like to see.

We scouted a field that had a pretty heavy infestation of grasshoppers earlier this season.  Rusty Elston reported catching more than 25 grasshoppers per 10 sweeps.  This is the damage that was being attributed to the grasshoppers.  Let me know if you saw any injury like this that you think was caused by grasshoppers in your rice. 

Empty hulls that may have been caused by grasshopper feeding on the developing grain.

A spray was applied to control the grasshoppers and we could not find any in the field.  The application was made about 10 days ago.  The rice is starting to mature and the panicles are turning down.  Some of the grains are still in the milk stage.  We did stumble upon a batch of rice stink bug eggs that were just hatching.

Rice stink bug egg mass just hatching. Notice the egg shells that are like little capsules - these little first instar nymphs are in the process of hatching out through the top hatch.

They are about to drain the rice field in preparation for harvest.

We also observed an abundance of different birds.  This farm has been part of conservation programs for 35 years and you could see the positive environmental impact of these efforts.

Wood duck box in an area set aside for conservation programs.

Large flocks of birds including great white egrets, great blue herons, roseate spoonbills and a number of species of ibis were enjoying the habitat.

These conservation areas will serve as an important alternative habitat for birds that typically rely on the coastal marshes.  NRCS conservation programs have been implimented this year in response to the potential long-term impact of the oil spill in the gulf.  Rice farmers are in a perfect position to provide the habitat desperately needed by a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Finally, we saw crews out roguing red rice from water-seeded fields.  These are planted in conventional varieties.  It’s important to remove the red rice before it has a chance to go to seed.  The red rice is removed by hand to keep the field clean and prevent adding to the seedbank next season.

Clumps of red rice in a field that will be rogued soon.

Crew roguing red rice - this is a tough job, but necessary to control this weed!

Tracks in the field left by the rogue crew.

Sacks of red rice rogued by the crew. These sacks are collected and the red rice is burned.

Hope you have a good weekend.  Next week we’ll start harvesting the demonstration test sites, unless we are delayed by Tropical Storm Bonnie.

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