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LSU rice researchers win international awards

Three LSU AgCenter scientists were honored at a recent international gathering of rice researchers.

The Rice Technical Working Group, which meets every other year, honored Dr. Chuck Rush, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, and Dr. Richard Dunand, recently retired plant pathologist at the AgCenter’s Rice Research Station in Crowley, with Distinguished Service Awards.

Dr. Don Groth, plant pathologist at the Rice Station, received the Distinguished Rice Research and Education Award.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Station, said the award recognizes Rush’s many contributions throughout his distinguished career. “He has developed a reputation as one of the foremost rice pathologists in the world today.”

Rush, who is retiring this year after more than three decades of work with the LSU AgCenter, told the gathering that receiving the RTWG award is especially meaningful for him. “You are the people who know what it took,” he said.

Dr. Garry McCauley of Texas A&M University, chairman of the RTWG Executive Committee, said Dunand fostered collaboration among researchers. Dunand worked as a plant physiologist at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Center for 30 years until retiring last year.

“Dr. Dunand conducted pioneering research studies in the use of plant growth regulators to improve rice production,” Linscombe said. “Many of the current uses of these products in rice production throughout the world are a result of studies conducted by Richard at the Rice Research Station during his career.”

Linscombe said Groth was deserving of this most prestigious recognition. “His research in numerous areas of rice disease control has been of great benefit to the Louisiana and U.S. rice industries.”

Groth thanked research associates Xin Hua, Marty Frey and Joe Nugent for their contributions to his research.

Several LSU AgCenter experts who work on rice research made presentations at the conference. They included:

• Dr. Brooks Blanche, rice breeder, who gave an overview of his work on growing a mixture of hybrids and varieties in the same field.

• Dr. Herry Utomo, molecular biologist, who discussed results of his work at using DNA markers to develop blast resistant lines.

• Dr. Xueyan Sha, rice breeder, talked about his work developing Jasmine-type lines.

• Dr. Ida Wenefrida, plant biotechnologist, who presented results of her work to increase the level of protein in rice.

• Dr. Mike Salassi, agricultural economist, gave results of his survey of farmland rental arrangements.

• Dr. Natalie Hummel, entomologist, gave details on a new rice insect pest, the panicle rice mite, found on Louisiana rice last year.

• Groth, who discussed his work to improve sheath blight resistance in rice.

• Graduate student Joe Kraska who gave results of a statewide survey on low silica levels in soils.

• Dr. Johnny Saichuk, rice specialist, who talked about methods for determining if rice moisture levels are low enough for harvest, and if a rice field should be drained.

• Dr. Dustin Harrell, agronomist, covering his study of the effects of different cutting heights on second-crop yield in drill-seeded rice.

• Dr. Eric Webster, weed scientist, discussed weed management in Louisiana.

• Sunny Bottoms, weed science research associate, gave details on a study of creeping rivergrass.

• Research associate Jason Hamm covered results of research by Dr. Mike Stout, LSU AgCenter entomologist, on testing of insecticides to replace pyrethroids for treating rice water weevils.

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