From Louisiana : Will new rice varieties make cut?

Rice producers looking for new varieties often turn towards Louisiana's Rice Research Station in Crowley, La. The curious should turn that way again: three varieties will soon be up for appraisal and potential release says Steve Linscombe, LSU senior rice breeder.

2183: “We're considering 2183 for foundation seed next year,” says Linscombe. “It's a nice, little semi-dwarf medium grain. It's about an inch or two shorter than Bengal and should have much better straw strength. With Bengal, especially when high nitrogen rates stretch it out, you can have lodging problems. Conversely, 2183 has good lodging resistance.”

The variety — a joint project between Linscombe and Xueyan Sha — has “really good” yield potential. While Linscombe and colleagues haven't yet gathered all yield data from this year, initial reports suggest, on average, a 500- to 600-pound yield advantage over Bengal.

One of 2183's most important characteristics is good resistance to predominant blast races. That's another plus in 2183's column over Bengal and will interest rice producers in neighboring states (see sidebar).

“Bengal is an older variety. I think it's been 12 years since its release, and it's still the medium-grain mainstay.

“We have a late-planted foundation field of 2183 that should be ready for harvest (at the end of September). We planted 7 acres at a 15-pound seeding rate.”

2008: 2008 is a very early long-grain in the same maturity range as Jefferson. “It's a bit earlier than Cocodrie. Yield-wise, it's comparable to Cocodrie, with really good grain quality.”

The disease package still has some question marks, says Linscombe. It's probably somewhat susceptible to sheath blight, but it does well against blast and straighthead.

“This one could fit south Louisiana well — especially for those wanting to plant early and get a foot up on a ratoon crop. This year, we had about a 20-acre increase on 2008. We'll be making a final release decision on it soon.”

CL 131: If Clearfield 131 is released, “it will be different because we won't put out foundation seed. Instead, if it gets the nod, we'll release it to BASF. They can distribute it themselves.”

The new Clearfield variety is a true semi-dwarf. “It will be about four days earlier than CL161 and quite a bit shorter. It has much better lodging resistance than 161. This year, quite a bit of 161 lodged across the southern rice growing region. 131 should stand up much better.”

Milling numbers on 131 look good, with a yield potential comparable to 161 — “or, hopefully, maybe a bit better.”

Linscombe stresses no decision has been made on any of the varieties. “We'll get the numbers, and LSU AgCenter administrators will have the final say on release.”

Linscombe is pleased Louisiana's rice acreage was back up around 540,000 acres. However, he isn't pleased with yields that, at least in southwest Louisiana, are down 10 percent to 15 percent.

“That's attributable to near-record rainfall in May and June. At the Crowley, La., station, we got almost 30 inches of rain in those two months.

“It's been a strange year. Normally, we see very dramatic drops in yield as we get to later-planted rice. We didn't see that this year, and we may never see it again. I hope producers don't decide to start planting late based on this season alone. Hopefully, this summer was just an outlier weather-wise.”

Louisiana's ratoon crop was slow getting started, says Linscombe. “It looks fine now, though. If we can keep the hurricanes out of it, we should bring in a pretty good second crop.”

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