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Managing disease pressure in rice

A rice extension educator says rice sheath blight continues to be the biggest disease threat for rice producers.

But, Jarrod Hardke with the University of Arkansas says producers shouldn’t jump the gun when it comes to fungicide applications. “I’m always dragging my feet,” he says.  “If you’re if you’re in doubt, hold on, don’t make the application. It should scream at you that you need to treat for it.”

Hardke says producers should scout for signs of disease pressure. “If we find it in a third or more of our positive stops, we’re going to say, okay, maybe we need to make the fungicide application,” he says.  “On what we call our moderately susceptible cultivars, it really needs to be more than 50% of our positive stops when scouting the field.”

He tells Brownfield there’s another threshold growers need to consider when it comes to determining if a fungicide application is needed. “It’s got to be threatening the upper canopy leaves,” he says.  “As long as we can go through the season and the top two to three leaves stay clean, the sheath blight hasn’t made it up to those leaves, then we really don’t have a justification for a fungicide application.”

He says the disease could create some lodging concerns at harvest if it moves into the upper canopy late.

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