Posts Tagged ‘RiceTec’

Over the weekend Sebe Brown scouted a field in Concordia parish where the stand was being severely reduced by colaspis larvae feeding on seedlings. Problems with this field started on March 16 when the stand began to decline. The plants were described as yellow and stunted. This was a Dermacor X-100 treated hybrid rice field no-till drill-planted at a 23 lbs/acre seeding rate. Surrounding fields were growing nicely. When Sebe scouted the field on Saturday he confirmed that the injury was being caused by Colaspis larvae feeding on the roots of seedlings. The stand was reduced about 40% by this injury. The recommendation was made to establish a shallow permanent flood to avoid further injury. In a situation like this, where the rice isn’t quite ready for a flood, you may lose some injured plants to the flood. The alternative is to wait to establish flood, during which time the colaspis will continue to injure the seedlings and further reduce the stand. Establishment of a flood on the field will prevent further feeding injury by the colaspis larvae and eventually the larvae will die. Note: according to experts in Arkansas it may take up to a month for colaspis larvae to die in the permanent flood. Click here to read more about colaspis. You can watch a video on how to scout for colaspis here. The Dermacor X-100 should provide about 30% suppression of the colaspis infestation. Next season, they will consider using a CruiserMaxx or NipsitInside seed treatment to target control of colaspis. The use of pyrethroids will not provide control of colaspis because they are injuring the crop below the soil line.

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On our final day in Texas we toured the RiceTec facility in Alvin, TX and Doguet’s rice mill. At RiceTec we learned about their seed business unit (SBU) and consumer business unit (CBU). The SBU is focused on developing hybrid rice varieties, while the CBU focuses on marketing specialized rice products to consumers. Rice Tec has five physical locations: Texas, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Mercosur (Brazil) and India. The facility at Alvin, TX is a 500 acre farm where rice land is rotated with soybeans. RiceTec is not immune to the water shortages in Texas and they have been affected by the water restrictions implemented this production season.

RiceTec is a full-integrated company, employing more than 200 people from many continents. The company activities range from breeding, contract growing, and milling of rice to packaging, branding and marketing of specialty rice to consumers. Improvements in varieties are driven by customer needs. RiceTec is one of a few agricultural companies that only focuses on rice.

This seed scanner machine measures grain size dimensions to check for uniformity.

RiceTec began in 1988 with the first hybrid rice crosses. At that time, the company was called “Farms of Texas”. RiceTec was officially formed in 1990. In 2000, the first hybrid rice variety (XL6) was sold by RiceTec. The first Clearfield variety was released in 2001, and the first hybrid with Clearfield qualities was sold in 2003. Currently, XL745 is the most popular long grain rice variety grown in the US.

A technician evaluating the cooking qualities of rice varieties.

Many people ask the question: what is hybrid rice? Hybrid rice is a cross between two distantly related parents. The offspring of this cross benefit from the phenomenon referred to as “hybrid vigor”: consistently higher yields than conventional rice varieties. Rice has a perfect flower, perfect in the sense that both male and female structures are present in the flower. This allows rice to self-pollinate. One of the challenges of hybrid rice breeding is the development of female sterile lines, which allow for the crossing of two varieties. The difficulty lies in distributing pollen from the male line to the female sterile line. RiceTec developed a mechanized hybrid seed production by planting female and male lines in blocks in a field and then using a helicopter to move the pollen between the two parent lines.

Hybrid rice was first produced in 1974. Currently, 60% of rice hectares in China are planted in hybrid rice varieties. Due to the enhanced yield potential of rice, growers can intensify production on less land. This ability to intensify crop production in a sustainable matter is critical to the support of our growing global population. The impact of hybrid rice production in China is significant. More than 40 million acres of hybrid rice varieties are planted in China. On average, the hybrid varieties have a 20% yield advantage over conventional varieties. This increase in yield potential, feeds 60 million more people each year! Hybrid varieties allow farmers to grow more food on less land, sustainably, and feed more people.

Greenhouse facilities used for variety development.

One of the critical issues facing farmers across the globe is the challenge of crop production intensification using sustainable practices. Hybrid rice varieties fit within this paradigm, because they are in their nature a sustainable product. Hybrids offer increased per capita grain yields, higher fertilizer efficiency, higher water use efficiency, lower production costs per hundred weight of rice produced, and disease and insect resistance (thus less pesticide use).

After Brian Otis concluded his presentation on the Seed Business side of RiceTec, we heard a brief presentation on the Consumer Business at RiceTec. This information was all new to me. I was not aware of the RiceSelect company. RiceSelect only sells premium rice and grains. The company is vertically integrated from seed to plate, distributing proprietary varieties of rice that are grown in Texas. RiceSelect has been in business for 30 years and was the first company to produce and distribute aromatic rice grown in the US. The CBU conducts studies of customer preference and marketing. RiceSelect is the only major brand of rice packed in a resealable jar, which improves the package appearance of their product on the shelf and maintains the quality of the rice. RiceSelect products are grown on American family farms, are rated US no 1 grade, and can be purchased in white, brown, light brown and organic. Light brown rice has gone through one phase of milling and still has some bran intact on the grain, improving the fiber content. The photo below contains (right to left) brown rice, light brown and white rice.

RiceSelect has a strong focus on environmental stewardship. They strive to produce a high quality product that is nutritious, provides ease of use to the customer, is non-genetically modified, and has low environmental impact. These stewardship principles are applied from the rice field, to the processing, packaging, and distribution of the product. They graciously provided us with some of their RiceSelect Texmati rice. I cooked it for dinner on Saturday night and was pleased with the freshness, texture and flavor of the product.

RiceTec is one of the sponsors of the Rice Leadership program and we greatly appreciate their support.

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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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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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When I woke up at 4 am yesterday I wasn’t feeling too well.  Things seemed to improve, so I decided to meet up with my Associate and head out to the field.  That was not the best idea.  Not a fun thing when the stomach flu gets you down.  I slept in the passenger seat most of the way to Ville Platte – did a quick interview with Avery Davidson (Louisiana Farm Bureau Report), clarified plot plans with County Agent Keith Fontenot and Rice Farmer Kenneth LaHaye, and then we headed back to Baton Rouge.  I slept most of the way back to Baton Rouge.  For those of you that know me, if I can sleep in the middle of the day, I’m really sick.  I’ve been in bed ever since.  This is not a good time of year to be sick, so I’m taking this slow and hope to be back at it tomorrow.  I thought you might like a quick update on what we did yesterday.  Thanks to the wonders of technology, I have pictures e-mailed from my Associate and Keith Fontenot.  

As I mentioned Avery Davidson met us for a This Week in Louisiana Agriculture (TWILA) story about the demonstration test.  Avery and I conducted a short interview at the field before I headed back to Baton Rouge.  

Mike Worthington (RiceTec) met us at the field to calibrate Kenneth’s new 42 ft John Deere air-assist drill.  

Kenneth's tractor and drill set-up (photo by Anna Meszaros).


I wish I had been able to be around to watch that sucker run.  It’s a memorable experience to hear them start up – it almost sounds like a plane talking off.  We had some final discussions about the treatment plan and then planting began. 

Kenneth LaHaye, Keith Fontenot, and Natalie Hummel discuss the treatment map for the rww demonstration site in Evangeline Parish (photo by Anna Meszaros).

Kenneth LaHaye, Keith Fontenot and Natalie Hummel discuss the treatment map (photo by Anna Meszaros).


Unfortunately, I missed this part, but Avery was able to ride along in the tractor and film the auto-steer features.  

Avery Davidson was in the tractor filming Kenneth LaHaye while the demo site was planted (photo by Keith Fontenot).


This equipment is incredibly accurate! 

This picture captures the auto-steer features - closing the gap between two planted areas (photo by Keith Fontenot).


At the LaHaye farm we are comparing untreated seed to the two seed treatments – Dermacor X-100 and CruiserMaxx.  These will be compared to a pyrethroid treatment.  The first application of Karate will go out with the second shot of Newpath immediately before flood.  1 week after permanent flood, we will scout for adults weevils &/or fresh feeding scars and make a decision about a second pyrethroid application.  Planting went well, now we will keep an eye out for first emergence of seedlings. 

Hybrid rice was planted at a 25 pound seeding rate at this test site.  This will be another nice comparison of CruiserMaxx and Dermacor X-100 at the low seeding rate. 

Today the Hoffpauir farm demonstration site in Acadia Parish is being planting.  Ok, back to bed for me.

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