CASH, AR (KAIT) - Rice farmers gathered Friday to hear the latest on hybrid rice for next year's crop and progress being made on insect control.
Van McNeely is the Director of Technical Services for RiceTec he said that Hybrid rice has several advantages beginning with yields.
"Yield advantage, straight up bushels per acre. Depending on the hybrid and the variety comparison we're looking at 20 to 30 bushels over conventional varieties."
Hybrid rice is also bred to resist more diseases as well.
"Excellent disease package where sheath blight and blast were the major disease concerns in rice. We might have to spray for sheath blight but blast has not been an issue for the hybrids."
Many of the farmers present at the field day were looking ahead to next years' crop or even beyond.
McNeely. "These trials that we have out here today, we probably have 62 locations across the U.S. And they'll (farmers) get a chance not only to look at the commercial products we have but also the advanced experimental products we have."
McNeely says it can take as much as 10 years to bring a hybrid rice to the stage where it can be grown commercially.
While the farmers were being introduced to the latest hybrids, Joe Christian on whose farm the field day was being conducted told us why he liked and used hybrid rice. He said there are good and bad sides.
Christian, "Being over 200 bushels most years we cut 200 bushels especially if we get it out early. If they can just keep grain from shattering, falling off on the ground you know I think there will be more grown."
Christian says hybrids are more expensive than normal varieties but improved yields help ease the outlay burden. Christian has expanded his rice production acres several times since the introduction of hybrids.
Toward mid-morning the rain began to fall and the rest of the program was moved into Christians shop. That part of the program was dedicated to insect control in rice.
With the loss of ICON pesticide several years ago Extension State Entomologist Gus Lorenz has been researching suitable replacements that offer the same amount of insect control. There are many pesticides and insecticides on the market but only two seem to fit the bill.
Lorenz, "We've been evaluating several seed treatments and we were able to get Section 18's and then full label this year on Cruzer and Dermacor.
Using graphs to demonstrate infection levels of Rice Water Weevils and Grape Colapsis, Lorenz was able to show positive progress by using these treatments. Pre-treating the seed Lorenz says, is most important for the weevil, properly coating the seed with the treatment will allow the plant to flourish and kill insects as well.
Lorenz says he has a line drawn where profits and losses are concerned.
"Above that line I'm getting a positive net return. Below that line I'm losing money."
And maximum yields with maximum returns is the bottom line. Does the combination of seed treatment and hybrid selection work?
Lorenz, "We'll see what our treatments do at harvest. And that's where the rubber meets the road."
In some parts of the state the rice harvest has already begun. McNeely says here in Region Eight it could possibly start as early as next week depending on the weather.