RiceTec organic hybrids exceed expectations

Thanks to RiceTec trials in coastal Texas during the 2009 growing season, consumers seeking out organic rice on grocers' shelves will soon find what they're looking for.

“There is a big opportunity in organic rice production,” said Derrol Grymes of East Bernard, the local RiceTec technical services representative.

“Consumer interest in organically produced food is growing. Our trials show that hybrid rice can be successfully grown under organic conditions to meet consumer demand.”

At trial sites across the Texas Rice Belt, RiceTec worked with growers this year to test its hybrid rice seed's response to organic growing conditions.

The Organic XL723 seed was untreated prior to planting, and the rice plant remained untreated (no herbicide, no chemical fertilizer, no fungicides) throughout the growing season, as required by organic production guidelines.

At a trial site on the Kenneth Danklefs farm in Garwood, Organic XL723 had an average yield advantage of up to 40 percent over conventional varieties, according to Grymes. Organic XL723 also milled the highest of all trial entries with a 59/69, compared with 57/69 for Cocodrie and 53/68 for Presidio.

“Yields so far have growers excited about what they've seen,” said Mark Spilman of Richmond, local RiceTec sales manager. “We've spoken with just about everyone who grew Organic XL723, and they're all asking for more in 2010.”

Cotton Cranek of Garwood planted Organic XL723 this year. “The XL723 grown organically gave us higher yields than we thought possible. It yielded 56 barrels per acre, where our Organic Presidio yielded 37 barrels,” Cranek said. “RiceTec hybrids give us a chance to stay in business. Hybrids are the only thing we have working for us to help reduce input costs. Old low-yielding conventional varieties with increased input costs caused us to quit farming for four years!”

“While we've always seen RiceTec's traditional XL723 produce very high yields, we didn't expect to see yields this high from the organic seed,” said Spilman. “Mr. Cranek not only did well with his Organic XL723, but his traditional Clearfield XL729 performed well also, yielding 65 barrels per acre with milling of 62/72 and a grade of 1. We're happy to see that.”

Ed Gold of Garwood also reported impressive results with Organic XL723. “We are easily seeing a 10- to 15-percent yield increase with Organic XL723 over varieties on our farm.”

RiceTec is currently evaluating seed supplies for 2010 plantings and is planning to offer untreated XL723 for organic production again next year.

For additional information about RiceTec, please visit http://www.ricetec.com.