Rice Farming

Breeding The Best

New varieties/hybrids released for ’08
once again raise the bar

By Carroll Smith

Rice breeders spend hours, months and even years meticulously picking through potential vari-eties/hybrids looking for the “next big thing” to provide farmers with options to improve their yields and milling quality. The release of a new variety or hybrid is greatly anticipated by producers because what they choose to plant may be the most significant decision they make.

Neptune and Catahoula debut in ’08
Dr. Steve Linscombe, veteran LSU AgCenter rice breeder, has announced two new varietal offerings for 2008 – Neptune and Catahoula.

According to Linscombe, Neptune (tested as LA0402028) is a semidwarf early maturing medium grain. It has excellent yield potential, very good milling quality and a bold grain that is similar to that of Bengal and bolder than Jupiter. Neptune also has good levels of resistance to current blast races.

“Neptune is similar in agronomic characteristics to Jupiter,” he adds. “The yield is similar to Jupiter and higher than Bengal. It also has good lodging resistance.”

Catahoula (tested as LA0302082) is a very early maturing semidwarf long grain with excellent yield potential and milling quality. Catahoula is moderately resistant to sheath blight and has good levels of resistance to predominate blast races.

“Catahoula is similar in agronomic characteristics to Cocodrie and Cheniere,” Linscombe says. “Its maturity and height are similar to Cocodrie. Catahoula has consistently outyielded Cocodrie and Cheniere by 200 to 300 pounds per acre. It’s also similar in straight head and sheath blight resistance to Cheniere.

“Both Neptune and Catahoula respond well to applied nitrogen (N) and have good lodging resistance,” he adds. “However, with the current price of urea, make sure the N is applied properly and most efficiently used. Under Louisiana growing conditions, 140 to 165 pounds of actual N per acre is recommended for both varieties.”

Linscombe notes that these two varieties should fit and have performed well in testing throughout the southern U.S. rice production areas. Neptune and Catahoula will be available as foundation seed from the Rice Research Station only for 2008 with Louisiana producers having priority.

If interested, contact Linscombe at (337) 788-7531 or slinscombe@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Mississippi’s Bowman – consistent yielder
In Mississippi, Dr. Dwight Kanter, rice breeder at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, released Bowman (tested as 0404191) in March of 2007, and foundation seed was produced this past season.

“Bowman is a semidwarf early maturing variety with high yield potential and Dixiebelle-type processing qualities,” he says. “In 2007, it matched Wells in terms of yield in our on-farm tests. It’s a consistent yielder with good standability at harvest. Year in and year out, it’s been the top performer.”

Kanter says the Bowman variety has somewhat better milling yields than Wells and is getting close to Cocodrie, which is usually considered the gold standard.

“It depends quite a bit on environmental conditions,” he adds.

The Mississippi rice breeder says Bowman is susceptible to blast but has some tolerance to sheath blight and straight head.

“In our on-farm variety trials in recent years, we have not encountered much, if any, blast infection,” he says. “Right now we’re treating it as a regular high-yielding variety in terms of fertilizer requirements and other general production recommendations.

“We’ve planted Bowman in many locations, and it seems to be very well adapted across the entire Delta area in Mississippi. We’ve also had it in uniform nursery tests in other states, so they’ve had a chance to look at it as well.”

Kanter says most of the foundation seed has been spoken for this year, but in 2009 – assuming a normal cycle – he expects registered seed to be available and commercial seed available for planting in 2010.

High-yielding long grain hybrid
In the hybrid rice arena, RiceTec released its newest Clearfield hybrid – CLXL745. It’s a very early high-yielding long grain hybrid with resistance to Newpath herbicide for use in the Clearfield system.

According to the company, CLXL745 has shown excellent hybrid grain yield and was tested extensively in 2007 by the universities as well as RiceTec. It has standard milling yield and improved grain retention but should be harvested as soon as grain moisture reaches 18 to 20 percent to reduce possible grain loss. CLXL745 is about five to six days earlier than CL161.

RiceTec says the hybrid has the best available disease tolerance package and excellent ratoon yield potential.

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or csmith@onegrower.com.

What’s in a name?
A lot of thought goes into naming new varieties. Sometimes the name is part of a theme for a group of varieties and often they are named in honor of outstanding people in the industry.

In the case of the new Louisiana varieties, Dr. Steve Linscombe says, “Neptune is in keeping with the celestial theme for medium grains, such as Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Orion. With long grains, like Catahoula, we try to come up with something that will associate them with Louisiana.”

Catahoula is a parish in the south-central area of the state. Past Louisiana long grain releases include Cocodrie, Cheniere, Trenasse and Cypress.

Bowman – the Mississippi release – was named after the late Dr. Donald H. Bowman, who was one of the early rice production research scientists at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.

“He was here for many, many years,” says Dr. Dwight Kanter, “and was well recognized at that time by everyone as a leading rice scientist.”