Weather across southeastern Texas and Arkansas rice fields this year caused something other than the tasty grain to crop up – panicle blight.

The condition affects rice plants in the field, and while it does not pose a problem for human consumption, it does take a bite out of the harvest.

Two types of blight can affect rice, according to Dr. Ted Wilson, director of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Beaumont. Panicle blight can be caused by environmental stress such as high temperatures and need not involve a plant pathogen, he said, while bacterial panicle blight is caused by bacteria.

"The bacteria that causes bacterial panicle blight exists in the environment. It's seed-borne," said Dr. Xin-Gen "Shane" Zhou, Texas AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Beaumont. "During years in which panicle blight is severe, losses in rice fields can be as high as 40 percent of the potential yield."

This year high nighttime temperatures accompanied by frequent rainfall and 95 percent humidity while the rice crop was heading and flowering sparked development of bacterial panicle blight.