What Is Rice Straighthead: Treating Rice With Straighthead Disease

What is rice straighthead disease? This destructive disease affects irrigated rice worldwide. In the United States, straighthead disease of rice has been a significant problem since rice crops were first grown in the early 1900s. Historically, rice straighthead disease is prevalent on old cotton fields where the use of pesticides was implemented. It appears that although arsenic is partly to blame, there are other factors as well, including the presence of excessive plant material that has been plowed under.

Let’s learn more about rice with straighthead disease.

What is Rice Straighthead Disease?

Rice straighthead disease may affect random spots scattered around a field. In this case, it is easy to spot because rice with straighthead disease is much darker green than unaffected rice plants. In some cases, however, straighthead disease of rice may affect entire crops.

The disease is rarely found in clay soil, but is more common in sand or loam. It is easily recognized when healthy rice is ready to be harvested. Straighthead disease was originally thought to be a seedborne disease. However, botanists have determined it is a condition that develops in certain soil conditions.

Rice Straighthead Symptoms

Mature rice with rice straighthead disease stands up straight because the heads are completely empty, unlike healthy rice that droops under the weight of the grain. The hulls may be distorted, taking on a crescent-like shape. This symptom is often known as “parrot head.”

Controlling and Preventing Rice Straighthead Disease

The best way to prevent straighthead disease of rice is to plant less susceptible varieties, as some types are more resistant.

Once a field has been affected, the best recourse is to drain the field and allow it to dry. This is tricky though, and timing depends on weather conditions and soil types. Your local cooperative extension office is the best source of information specific to your area.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.