Texas rice producers are getting help with some of their most damaging insect and disease pests from Texas AgriLife Research efforts.

Researchers M.O. Way, X.G. Zhou, and Jo Young-Ki reported on efforts to improve pest control at the recent Texas Plant Protection Association annual conference in College Station.

Zhou said bacterial panicle blight (BPB) poses a serious threat to rice production across the Southern U.S. rice region.

“In 2010, the disease was widespread across the Texas Rice Belt and in Arkansas,” Zhou said. ‘Unfortunately, no effective chemical options are currently available.”

He said the disease caused yield reductions as high as 40 percent to 50 percent across much of the rice production area, including Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida. Milling quality was also reduced.

“This disease may be difficult to differentiate from other diseases,” he said, making it tricky to identify in the field. BPB appears to be exacerbated by high nighttime temperatures. Flowering time may be the most susceptible growth stage, and the pathogen may be either soil borne or seed borne.