Brett Lassiter, ProAg Services’ crop consultants in Newport, Arkansas, has seen the need for consultants grow as technology and rice production evolves.
“Rice farmers benefit from working with someone who concentrates on agricultural research,” Lassiter says. “We attend meetings, participate in plot tours and communicate regularly with company representatives. Our knowledge about product options and future technologies allow us to make educated recommendations to farmers.”
“The industry is in survival mode, and we help rice farmers survive to fight another day,” Lassiter says. “I’m encouraged, though, because we are gaining customers, not losing them. Farmers are relying on us more, and that tells me that we are providing a valuable resource.”
Agriculture’s perceived environmental impact is concerning, Lassiter contends.
“We need to be as efficient as possible with resources,” he says. “In my opinion, farmers are the original conservationists because their livelihoods depend on the land. If anyone has vested interest it’s us. We need to protect the land to remain profitable.”
Lassiter carefully reviews farm inputs to maximize economic efficiencies and crop yield.
“A plan creates organized chaos,” he says. “Budgets can be adapted as the need arises, but without a plan you are directionless.”
Herbicide inputs need to be flexible to adjust to changing needs.
“You may get rained out of the field for two weeks or have unanticipated weeds emerge,” Lassiter says. “Our main driver for herbicide choices is resistance management.”
Lassiter says documented cases of pigweed resistant to ALS, PPO and Roundup® herbicides are common in his area.
“Resistance management is a big deal and something we’ve been dealing with for a long time,” he says. “Pigweed is especially robust, adaptive to its climate and will survive one way or another.”
ALS resistance is increasingly a challenge for rice growers.
“ALS-resistant flatsedge is becoming a real issue, as is tough-to-control nutsedge, barnyardgrass and other grasses,” he says.
Lassiter takes an aggressive approach to weed control and endorses treatments that combine multiple modes of action.
He recommends growers apply RebelEX® herbicide early in the season, following an early spray of Command or another residual product.
“RebelEX works well on aggressive weeds where we have continuous rice rotation, heavier soil and heavy grass pressure,” Lassiter says. “We recommend it in tough situations where we need multiple modes of action on barnyardgrass, sprangletop and other broadleaves. We’ve had good results on small weeds in moist soil.”