Six rice farms chosen for AgCenter projects
CROWLEY – LSU AgCenter rice research scientists conduct many projects at locations other than the Rice Research Station near Crowley. These off-station sites, typically between 2 and 6 acres, are in the state’s two rice-growing areas. This year four farms in southwestern Louisiana and two in northeastern Louisiana have been selected for these sites.
“Local rice farmers provide land, irrigation water and many other services, including the patience required of small-plot research activities,” said Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the LSU AgCenter’s Southwest Region.
The off-station trials in southwestern Louisiana will be at Jimmy Hoppe’s farm south of Fenton in Jeff Davis Parish; Kent Lounsberry’s farm south of Lake Arthur in western Vermilion Parish; Kody and Larry Beiber’s farm west of Mamou in Evangeline Parish; and R&Z Farms (Keith Rockett, Dwayne and Doug Zaunbrecher), east of Mowata in Acadia Parish.
“2008 marks the 24th year this work has been conducted on the Lounsberry Farm in Vermilion Parish and the 14th year for these studies on the Hoppe Farm in Jeff Davis Parish,” Linscombe said.
In northeastern Louisiana, the two locations are in Richland Parish at Elliot Colvin’s farm north of Rayville and Woodsland Plantation southeast of Monroe.
“These sites are treated as miniature research stations. The site must have independent flooding and draining capabilities,” Linscombe said. “This will allow us to flush, flood or drain the research area without affecting the producer’s adjacent fields.
“The farmer prepares the seedbed in the research area for drill-seeding. Then we travel to the site with the same small-plot planting equipment we use at the Rice Station,” Linscombe said.
The field is squared off and laid out for planting, and the planting operation itself is normally completed within two to three hours. After planting, the site is managed similarly to sites on the research station. This includes water management (flushing, flooding and drainage as appropriate) and proper fertilization, as well as weed, insect and disease control.
“Often, fertilization and pest control treatments may be part of the research studies, so we take precautions to avoid jeopardizing these treatments when managing the rest of the research area,” Linscombe said.
Researchers visit these sites once or twice a week at a minimum to collect data and make management decisions.
“When all plots have reached harvest maturity, we travel to the site with our small plot combine to harvest each plot. We then record the weight, grain moisture and test weight for later comparisons. At some south Louisiana locations, the research area is fertilized and reflooded after harvest to generate ratoon (second) crop data,” Linscombe said.
These off-station sites are integral to the research effort.
“We have had a number of experimental lines through the years that looked very good at tests here on the station. However, evaluating these same lines at the off-station sites allowed us to discover inherent characteristics that warranted a decision not to release,” Linscombe said.
On the other hand, consistent superior performance over locations and years by a potential release can corroborate data produced on the research station and help justify a variety release, Linscombe said. In addition to variety development, typical areas of research conducted at these off-station sites include fertility and agronomic studies, as well as disease, insect and weed control work.
County agents are vital to the success of the research program, too, Linscombe said. They help locate cooperating farmers and help in the planting, data collection and harvesting of the research sites. In addition, most locations serve as the venue for a parish or area field days, which are coordinated by the agent. These field days allow producers to see new technology in a farmer-oriented setting.