Provisia rice: Better weed control, higher quality

Five-year effort to develop new Provisia rice variety could pay off in more ways than one for rice producers.

Plant breeding usually involves trade-offs. You get the yield up and grain quality suffers. Or you find a good herbicide-resistant line, but the yield isn’t up to par. Or the variety is resistant to one disease but can be devastated by another.

That’s what could make the introduction of PVL01, which will be the first new variety to contain the Provisia Rice herbicide resistance technology developed by the LSU AgCenter, BASF and Horizon Ag something special.

PVL01 and the other Provisia lines that could follow it will be resistant to the quizalofop grass herbicide that was originally introduced as Assure. PVL01, which is expected to be offered for sale in 2018, contains very low levels of chalk and has the exceptionally long grain length being sought by rice millers.

“Certainly this is a new herbicide resistance system that offers, we think, some distinct advantages going forward as a companion system to Clearfield rice,” says Steve Linscombe, rice breeder at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley, La.

“We’ve had Clearfield out there 15 or so years now, and it’s done a wonderful job for us in helping us deal with red rice, weedy rice and other weeds. But we knew going in that when you’re trying to control a weed that’s the same genus and species as the crop you are going to eventually develop weedy rice with resistance to the herbicide in the system.”

Different mode of action

Dr. Linscombe said having a different mode of action (in the Provisia rice) “is going to allow us to go into some of these fields where we have weedy rice issues that we no longer can control with Newpath and Beyond and perhaps clean up some of those fields. Ultimately having two systems will allow us to use these technologies much longer into the future.”

His comments came during one of the stops on the field tour for the 108th Rice Field Day at the Crowley, La., station. Dr. Linscombe, who also led the development of the Clearfield rice lines, has announced his retirement (on Sept. 30) after 35 years of working for the LSU AgCenter, first as Extension rice specialist and then as a plant breeder.

Between 1991 and now, Dr. Linscombe introduced 33 rice varieties that have had a major impact on production systems throughout the southern Rice Belt.

The PVL01 release may be one of quickest turnarounds ever accomplished by plant breeders anywhere. Dr. Linscombe and coworkers have been working about five years to develop PVL01, which is about half the time it normally takes.

“We brought this variety to the market quicker than anything that has ever come out of the station at Crowley,” he said. “And this was only possible because we utilized the winter nursery in Puerto Rico, I think, four times over a four-year period. That illustrates the value of having that facility down on the island.”

Good yield potential for PVL01

Dr. Linscombe said PVL01 will be a good introductory variety for the Provisia technology. “Yield potential will be good. It might not be quite as good as some of these new Clearfield varieties, but it will be a competitive variety from a yield standpoint.”

PVL01 will be a step in the right direction for addressing the quality issues that have plagued the U.S. rice industry in recent years. It contains significantly less chalk than other Clearfield varieties that are currently being planted in the Mid-South.

“We know the CL151 line is not a good variety from the grain chalk standpoint,” he said, referring to a sign listing the characteristics at his field tour stop. “In these samples, the CL151 actually had 35 percent. Even the CL111, which has the reputation of being a higher quality variety, had 24 percent. But you can see the Provisia line, the PVL01 line, was down around 7 percent.

“So from a grain chalk standpoint we think it will have a significant advantage.”

Dr. Linscombe also discussed the grain length characteristics, which are becoming more important to rice millers. PVL01 is the only variety listed by Dr. Linscombe at the field day that exceeds the 7-millimeter level being sought by the millers.

Demonstration fields established

PVL01 is being grown on about 1,200 acres of seed production with about half of those acres in Louisiana this summer, according to Dr. Linscombe.

Horizon Ag, which will distribute PVL01 when it becomes commercially available, placed seed with several growers for demonstration plots throughout the southern rice-growing area last spring.

Rice growers were invited to view one of the demonstration fields on the Christian Richard Farm near Kaplan, La., during a field day in late June. A steady downpour made it too wet for farmers to get out in the field and look at the new rice, but Horizon Ag General Manager Tim Walker said growers will have other opportunities to see Provisia rice this summer.

“Driving around south Louisiana before the field day, we saw a number of fields that had problems with weedy rice that Provisia will help,” he said. “We think this technology has tremendous potential to provide growers with another good tool.

Richard made two applications of Provisia herbicide at 15 ounces each on the Provisia rice demonstration field and was impressed with the level of control the new technology provided in a field with a significant number of weed problems.

Quality vs. price

He also likes what he’s hearing about PVL01’s quality, but, like other producers, he’s wondering how the pricing of the new higher quality line will play out in the seasons ahead. “We need some balance in the cost of the input and the price farmers are receiving for a higher quality, premium rice,” he says.

“Horizon Ag is pleased to partner with BASF to bring Provisia rice to market in 2018 – an important new technology that will enable rice growers to achieve better control of costly weeds that have the potential to impact yield and quality,” said Walker. “At a time when the rice industry is facing significant challenges, this partnership is an example of two industry leaders coming together again to bring forward solutions that improve profitability for U.S. rice producers.”

“We see the Provisia Rice System as an excellent complement to the Clearfield Production System for rice, providing growers with multiple solutions to control red rice, volunteer rice and challenging grass weeds,” said Nick Fassler, manager, technical marketing group at BASF.

“Growers will have three unique offers in the rice market: conventional rice, the Clearfield system and then Provisia. We can rotate between those to control different types of red rice and off-types of rice. Provisia will provide the rice market a new active ingredient that will help with those difficult-to-control grasses as well.”

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