Seven steps to reduce rice diseases

In Delta Farm Press

by Yeshi Wamishe, University of Arkansas

Disease management starts long before going to the field to plant rice.

(1) Match variety with field: To maximize productivity with minimum risk, knowing the history of your field and using the right variety for the field is essential. Often this may mean planting more than one or two varieties on multiple farms.

Hybrids have the best resistance to diseases such as rice blast, bacterial panicle blight, and sheath blight. Hybrids would be good candidates in fields with histories of such diseases. Note that hybrids are not immune to these diseases but can be more tolerant.

However, they are more susceptible to kernel smut and false smut. If hybrids are planted in fields with a history of the smuts, cultural management options need to be strictly followed to reduce their incidence and severity.

(2) Balance nutrients: Soil fertility plays a major role in disease severity. Application of excessive nitrogen strongly favors the smuts, sheath blight, blast, and bacterial panicle blight diseases of rice, among others. Potassium has shown to reduce the severity of some major rice diseases including brown spot, stem rot and likely reduces the severity of bacterial panicle blight and sheath blight, among others.

Balancing N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) to increase productivity by increasing the defense system (tolerance) of the crop to diseases is always a good strategy.

(3) Minimize risk with planting dates: Early planting is often recommended to reduce or escape the late-season diseases that include blast, bacterial panicle blight, and narrow brown leaf spot and smuts, especially false smut. However, we may also reduce environmental or weather risks by spreading out planting dates.

(4) Reduce risk by proper water management: Effective water management reduces drought stress, which in turn reduces stress-related diseases such as blast and panicle blanking. Drought stress associated with sandy soils and poor irrigation management predispose rice plants to infection by the blast pathogen.

On the other hand, drought stress by itself results in blank panicles that can be confused with bacterial panicle blight. Therefore, it is important to know the capacity of your water sources to determine how much of your field can be effectively irrigated without creating stress on your rice.

For the rest of the story, go to Delta Farm Press.

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