By Scott McClure
When a new rice variety makes you feel like a good farmer, you know it’s done its job. That’s how Gueydan, Louisiana farmer Connor Popeck says he feels about growing CLL17, a Clearfield® variety introduced by Horizon Ag for the 2021 season.
"This was our first year of planting CLL17, and we really enjoyed growing it," says Popeck. "It came up out of the ground and really looked pretty. We are going to have more of it next year for sure."
Popeck and his uncle both tried CLL17 in 2021 to see how it would stack up with others in their current planting lineup. His uncle had grown a lot of CL153 and CL111 in the past, two popular Horizon Ag varieties. Popeck, who has been planting rice for three years after working for a large ag retailer, had been planting Provisia® rice, hybrids and CL153.
"We switched out to go mainly with Provisia because of the red rice issue, as well as try CLL17," he says. "We had heard CLL17 might replace some other varieties because it provided a step up in performance."
He planted CLL17 at a seeding rate of 50 pounds per acre and, "We really liked it. I only used about 110 units of nitrogen per acre, and it still yielded 49 barrels, which was very exciting considering the year we had. My uncle applied 125 units per acre, got good yields, and his second crop has come back and looks beautiful."
One characteristic Popeck likes about CLL17 is its shorter stature. "Some of the other varieties can get really tall here," he says. "With the hurricane winds we have in this area, lodging can be a big problem. We had no lodging issues with CLL17."
The variety also proved capable of maintaining its potential over a broad planting window. Popeck’s uncle planted CLL17 in early March, while a late opportunity to pick up a rental farm resulted in Popeck planting CLL17 almost 30 days later.
"I was talking with Corey Conner (Horizon Ag Field Representative) about what variety to plant on the new farm and he recommended CLL17," Popeck says. "We worked up the new land, leveled it and planted CLL17 in early April. It made one of the highest yields off that farm in a long time, according to the landowner."
CLL17 also showed durability when Command® herbicide damage from an applicator error made the crop look bad for a couple of weeks. "CLL17 handled the stress, came out of it and weighed good," says Popeck. "Nothing is perfect. We didn’t put it in one of those test plot fields where conditions are perfect. We put it in some challenging situations, and it was fantastic. It did exactly what it was supposed to do."
Dr. Tim Walker, Horizon Ag general manager, said many Louisiana farmers tried CLL17 for the first time this season and have been pleased with how it’s performed. He added that CLL17’s industry-leading blast resistance and strong yield potential are an essential combination for Coastal rice farmers today looking to maximize profitability.
Even before its launch, CLL17 had proven its ability to make high yields, consistently out-performing CL153 in multi-year trials in the state. It also has solid ratoon crop potential and has proven to provide excellent milling yield and very good grain quality.
In three years of university testing, CLL17 averaged 6% higher yields than CL153. And in 59 trials throughout the Mid-South Rice Belt beginning in 2015, the variety averaged 7,841 pounds per acre for the main crop, compared to 7,155 pounds for CL111, 7,330 pounds for CL153 and 6,653 pounds for Cheniere, according to LSU AgCenter data.
In 2019, the average yield advantage was 7% over CL153 across 20 tests in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. In seed production fields in South Louisiana and Texas, CLL17 averaged 50-plus barrels per acre. And In Horizon Ag’s foundation field at the rice station, it yielded 59 barrels per acre, which was higher than any other variety ever increased.
"It was exciting to work with Louisiana State University to bring forward an advanced variety like CLL17 that is helping farmers make higher yields and achieve a better return on investment," says Dr. Walker. "CLL17 represents the next generation of Clearfield varieties in Louisiana, providing farmers the complete package of strong yield potential, excellent milling yield, very good grain quality and resistance to blast."