JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 farmers plowed into the Craighead County Extension Office in Jonesboro on Thursday, as the Craighead County Rice Production meeting kicked off with several speakers from the University of Arkansas touching on a variety of different topics.
Director of Rice Research, Dr. Chuck Wilson, says they're working to help farmers have a successful year. "We're gonna talk about some new varieties coming out, "Wilson said. "What they can expect and how those varieties will perform and kind of help them figure out some ways to make some variety selections."
Wilson said farmers have had some serious problems to cope with the past couple of years. "We've had a disease problem that's come up that's been pretty devastating for some growers across the state," Wilson stated soberly. "There are very limited varieties that have natural resistance to this disease. So, we're gonna try and talk about some of the other ways we can try to address this disease and make it something that we can live with. Kind of reduce some of the risk."
Wilson says one of the things that aggravate the disease is stress. "For example, the flooding we experienced last year when the rice was under water for three or four weeks at a time. That seemed to enhance this disease situation. We got into a drought last summer, and some of the farmers, because they're trying to spread irrigation water from rice to soybeans to corn and other crops makes it difficult to keep the rice irrigated effectively. So, we're going to talk a little about that and talk about trying to do things as timely as we possibly can."
Local farmer Scott Gibson has around forty-two hundred acres near Brookland. Gibson says he tries not to miss one of these meetings. "We always try to make it to these extension meetings," Gibson commented. "They're always very educational. They do a lot of research and at these meetings they present the information that they've gained from that research and it's always stuff that we can apply on our farm."
"So far, the response has been fairly positive," Wilson said of their first meeting last week. "The rice market in comparison to some of the other commodities is not as strong as it has been in the past. So, there's a little bit of apprehension about what to do and how to go forward. Again, with some of the disease issues and the problems we suffered last year, there's apprehension about what to expect. Fuel prices are high and potentially could rise some more, so that's really going to create some issues as well."
Gibson says what pulls farmers in, is the performance results from the varieties. "The yield trials are always the biggest thing. All the different varieties and how they compare against one another. Also, disease characteristics of the particular varieties and then an outlook as to what to expect of the coming year."
There will be several meetings which take place across the state in most of the major rice counties. Next week, meetings will be taking place in Weiner, Arkansas. For more information or a complete listing of their schedule, log onto this website.