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Provisia rice set to make jump in Mid-South acres

Rice harvest
How will Provisia rice fit in the Delta?

As new varieties are sought by breeders, the buildup of Mid-South Provisia rice ( acreage is expected to continue in 2018. That is especially true where growers are facing increasingly resistant grasses.

“Provisia is a non-GMO, herbicide-tolerant rice being developed by BASF,” says Bob Scott, University of Arkansas weed specialist. “It’s very different than Clearfield rice. In fact, Provisia (herbicide) will damage Clearfield rice and vice-versa — the two technologies must be kept separate.

“It will have a really good fit in areas where red rice and barnyardgrass have become resistant to Newpath and other ALS chemistry. So, for those acres it will become a sort of replacement for Clearfield rice.”

Working together

How will the Provisia and Clearfield technologies — both under the Horizon Ag umbrella — work together?

“We don’t see the Provisia rice systems as a replacement for Clearfield rice,” says John Schultz, BASF tech representative. “Clearfield is too good a technology from a weed-control standpoint. We see Clearfield and Provisia working hand-in-hand for several reasons.

“First, we see Provisia rice helping growers take back acres they’ve lost due to resistance issues in continuous Clearfield production. Everyone has seen fields as they drive around the Delta that are grown up in red rice and grass weeds. Those acres can be cleaned up (with Provisia) and put back into a normal production schedule.

“Second, Provisia rice allows the grower to alternate herbicide modes of action once the fields are cleaned up. We aren’t relying on one technology like we have with Clearfield over the last 15 years. Basically, we can grow more rice using stewardship practices” of Provisia rice.

The stewardship recommendations for Clearfield call for one year of Clearfield rice followed by soybeans. “Of course, not everyone does that and that’s why many of the fields are in the situation they are,” says Schultz. “You can’t grow soybeans on zero-grade fields very well so being able to grow two or three years of rice and have different herbicide technologies each year is a huge benefit.”

The fit

Asked how Provisia will fit in Arkansas fields, Jarrod Hardke, Arkansas Extension rice specialist, says, “2017 was the first year we’ve had access to a variety with the Provisia technology. We didn’t find that variety to be a top-end yielder compared to other things on the market. However, when you take into consideration where this particular tech has the greatest immediate potential, you’re already looking at low-yielding areas. Those areas are being hit with herbicide resistance leading to control issues. Crops grown with things already on the market aren’t doing very well there — the weed complex is too stout.

“So, placing Provisia rice into those environments — even with a variety that may not have great yields in the overall scheme — actually mean a yield increase.”

As Provisia is still in development, it “isn’t perfect,” says Scott. “Right now, in our trials, the Provisia varieties are low-yielding. However, if you’re in a bad, grown-up, ALS-resistant red rice field and you can grow clean rice then you might be willing to accept the lower yields.

“So, Provisia will first have a fit on limited acres in Arkansas. I think it’ll be more popular in Louisiana where the red rice issues are a bigger problem. Then, when varieties improve, its market share will broaden.” 

Farmers’ reactions to Provisia’s promise, says Hardke, means “there’s plenty of excitement. They’re hoping for a quick improvement to future variety offerings. There may be another variety for us to test in (2018).

“However, with the single variety we studied, the milling quality is very good, standability is excellent with no lodging concerns, and the general agronomics are certainly competitive with other varieties out there. There are some disease concerns with it but that’s also true with other varieties and there’s nothing way outside the norm.”

Grass only

Unlike Newpath, Provisia herbicide is strictly a grass herbicide “with only post-emerge activity, no residual,” says Scott. “So, growers will have to address broadleaf weed issues some other way with pre- applications and tank-mixes.

“From time to time, there can some antagonism with Provisia in tank-mixes. So, our recommendation is to put your broadleaf tank-mix partner with the first application. It’s a sequential, so you’ll make two applications. Then, when you come back with the second application, it can be done with just Provisia to clean up the grass.”

Scott and colleagues have seen excellent control with Provisia on all the grass weeds in rice. “It does seem to take two applications to control red rice.”

The first question Schultz usually fields from growers on Provisia rice is: What weeds can be controlled with the technology?

“With Clearfield rice, you have Newpath, Clearpath and Beyond as herbicides,” says Schultz. “With Provisia rice, as of right now, there is just one herbicide: Provisia herbicide.

“Provisia herbicide is a pure grass control product with no broadleaf control. Broadleaf tank-mix partners will be necessary to control broadleaf weeds. However, Provisia’s grass control can’t be touched by any other product on the market for rice. That’s what really sets it apart.”

Any carryover concerns with Provisia herbicide?

“There is no carryover from year-to-year with Provisia herbicide,” says Schultz. “The main issue with carryover in Clearfield is when there’s multiple years of Newpath or Clearpath use. That has happened with a lot of zero-grade fields. The Newpath/Clearpath left in the soil can severely injure Provisia, or conventional, rice.

“There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to the carryover issues from multiple years of Newpath applications. When that’s the case, we tell farmers and consultants they need to talk to us one-on-one about each field before committing to planting Provisia rice. Every field is different and you can’t give a blanket answer for each situation.”

The learning curve

When growing Provisia rice, “there’s definitely some learning on the ground to be had,” says Schultz. “We’ve had several consultant meetings, and we’ll also be talking about it at winter meetings. People need to know how the system is supposed to be used. It has to be managed a bit differently than Clearfield. It isn’t as easy and clear-cut as the Clearfield management system.

“You need to pay a little more attention to (Provisia rice). That will be a key for success, especially for the first couple of years as we tackle the learning curve.”

In 2018, BASF foresees “only around 75,000 to 100,000 acres of Provisia rice,” says Schultz. “Most of that is allocated mainly in northeast Arkansas and southwest Louisiana.

“Because not all growers can get into Provisia right now, we are really focusing our efforts in helping rice growers plan for entry into the Provisia Rice System, based on what they are growing this upcoming season.”

The LSU AgCenter has “several very good” Provisia varieties in the development pipeline. “Those aren’t way down the road and they’re working hard to pump some good varieties out. The 2018 growing season will be the full commercial launch. It will be a few years before there are a couple of the new varieties out.”


Provisia will help rice growers “especially in the pockets of acreage with ALS-resistant grasses, says Hardke. “Those are typically in northeast Arkansas and southwest Louisiana.

“In Arkansas, Provisia rice will be considered especially where there are low-lying areas and rotational crops aren’t terribly viable. You can grow other crops like soybeans, but the acres are so flat and low-lying that three out of five years they’ll be drowned out. That’s where Provisia will go first.”

The sole Provisia rice variety Hardke has looked at is “later-maturing (and) similar to Roy J, which is considered pretty late. It isn’t outside the realm of anything we’re already growing but keep in mind it is later-maturing, and there’s some disease susceptibility. In grown-up rice fields, though, those things can be offset by (Provisia’s) positives…

“With the single variety we studied, the milling quality is very good, standability is excellent with no lodging concerns, and the general agronomics are certainly competitive with other varieties out there. There are some disease concerns with it, but that’s also true with other varieties and there’s nothing way outside the norm.”

Schultz wants to see the technology last as long as possible. “This is another great tool to help manage rice weed control – especially grasses. But it has to be stewarded in the right way to keep it alive. We can take the Provisia rice system and the Clearfield system and make a rice grower much more sustainable into the future. That’s why Provisia was brought to market.”

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