UA rice variety promises earlier maturity and cold tolerance

STUTTGART, Ark. — You normally don’t think of Hungary as important in the Arkansas rice industry, but a new variety developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture relies on a Hungarian rice germplasm as a key part of its genetic makeup.

Karen Moldenhauer, a rice breeder at the UA Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, Ark., says the new variety, Spring (RU0101093), will give Arkansas rice farmers a strong new, early-maturing line with the promise of good cold tolerance and strong seedling vigor.

“It’s parentage includes an early Hungarian line that we crossed to other material in the mid 1980s. Unfortunately, this material turned out to be susceptible to rice blast. The Hungarian germplasm was a benefit because it had earliness. It headed in about 54 days.”

The early parent of Spring lacked blast resistance and did not have the yield of today’s rices. It did have typical quality needed by the U.S. market.

Moldenhauer crossed this improved line with Tebonnet, Katy and Lagrue to increase yield and blast resistance while maintaining earliness. From these crosses, the current line, Spring, was created. Besides cold tolerance, Spring has better yield potential than the early parent as well as some blast tolerance and good long-grain cooking characteristics. “Spring also has better stink bug tolerance than Maybelle,” she says.

Besides good cold tolerance, the new variety “springs out of the ground” and grows well, according to Moldenhauer. “Last year, in the foundation seed field, it cut 163 bushels per acre dry, so it has good yield potential for something that early,” she says.

Chris Deren, center director, says Spring won’t be a barn buster for yields, “but yields are acceptable and better than Jefferson, a Texas early-maturing variety.”

Moldenhauer says Spring matures about 10 days earlier than Cocodrie or Francis, and it matures about five days earlier than Jefferson. It’s the same maturity as the old Maybelle variety, but it should easily produce 10 to 20 bushels better than Maybelle.

Spring will give farmers another option.

“For some farmers in certain situations, it’s going to be a good variety,” Moldenhauer says. “They might want to plant it early because it has cold tolerance, it springs out of the ground, it grows off very early and they could reduce their water use. It’ll fit right into what some farmers want it to do, and for other producers it won’t be the right variety.”

Deren says it was in the foundation seed program and small demonstration plots in 2005, and it should be generally available for production fields in 2006.

Lamar James is an Extension communications specialist with the University of Arkansas.

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