SWLA rice farmers discuss drought on rice tour

Rice producers in Jeff Davis Parish are preparing to continue battling the dry conditions in the midst of growing season in southwest Louisiana.

Farmers from all over the region discussed their concern for the drought at the 17th Annual Southwest Louisiana Rice Tour on Wednesday.

The tour made stops at different rice farms in Jeff Davis Parish. The day is designed to introduce rice farmers to the latest research and developments in rice breeding, weed and disease control, and fertilization.

Drought conditions have made the current growing season difficult for Jimmy Hoppe, a rice farmer from Iowa, LA.

"Because of the dry conditions we haven't been able to flood the fields in a timely manner," said Hoppe.

Hoppe said he has seen insect problems this year that he has not experienced in the past.

"Because of that, I don't have as many plants per square foot as I need to provide an optimum yield," said Hoppe.

According to LSU AgCenter researchers, the drought is interfering with irrigation practices for farmers in southwest Louisiana.

"We have a lot of issues with salinity and irrigation water," said Steve Linscombe, Senior Rice Breeder for the LSU AgCEnter. "Because it is so dry this is going to be a very expensive year because they have to pump so much."

While rice producers are hoping for rain in the near future, experts warned farmers that rainfall could lead to more diseases for the rice.

"We're anticipating that once this drought breaks we'll see a lot of disease," said Donald Groth, a research coordinator for the LSU AgCenter.

Researchers reminded rice farmers of ways to be prepared if diseases form when rainfall hits.

"The main one to remember is to use the right timing for the fungicides," said Groth. "Sometimes between booting and heading is the best time for all the diseases that we have."

Experts urged all rice farmers to constantly check their crop for any diseases that could form.

The LSU AgCenter's next rice tour is scheduled for Thursday, June 30th at 7:30 a.m. at the LSU Rice Research Station in Crowley, LA.