The names of three of the four new conventional varieties
coming out of the rice breeding programs at LSU AgCenter
and Texas A&M are tied to rivers that are familiar irrigation
sources for area rice producers – Mermentau, Colorado
and Antonio. The fourth variety, an aromatic called Della-2 is
named for its predecessor Della.
One of the two new varieties announced by Dr. Steve Linscombe,
LSU AgCenter rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station
in Crowley, is Mermentau – a conventional, semi-dwarf long-grain
named after the river basin that runs through the heart of southwest
Louisiana rice country. Its physical characteristics are similar to
those of Cocodrie, Cheniere and Catahoula. This variety is about
the same height (37-39 inches) and maturity as Cheniere.
“Based on a typical planting date in March, Mermentau will mature
in about 120-125 days,” Linscombe says. “It has a slight yield advantage
over these other conventional varieties and excellent grain
appearance – uniform without a lot of chalk. With increased emphasis
on the quality of long-grains, we thought this variety would be a
positive for the industry.”
Linscombe also notes that Mermentau has been in multi-state,
multi-location testing for four years and has been consistent in yield
and milling yield. It is susceptible to sheath blight, so a fungicide
should probably be applied in south Louisiana, but, like Cheniere, this
new variety has pretty good field resistance to blast.
Long-Grain Aromatic Variety
The other line being released by the LSU AgCenter is Della-2, a
conventional long-grain aromatic.
This variety is the result
of the work of LSU AgCenter
rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha,
who also developed Jazzman
and Jazzman II.
Della-2 can be differentiated
from the Jasmine types because
a Della-type variety has the same
cooking characteristics as a conventional
long-grain as far as
amylose and gelatinization temperature.
A jasmine type has a
lower amylose and gelatinization
temperature than a typical
long-grain, which means it
cooks a little softer.
“From a quality and aromatic
standpoint, Della, which was
released in the 1970s, is excellent,
but it is a low-yielding, very
tall variety that is susceptible to
lodging,” Linscombe says.
“Della-2 is a semi-dwarf with
very good yield potential and
won’t lodge nearly as quickly
as the original Della.”
Della-2 is about 38 inches in
height and 120 days to maturity.
It’s similar in appearance to the
conventional long-grain varieties,
such as Cheniere and Mermentau,
but it does have the aromatic
characteristic. Della-2 also
has very, very good grain quality.
Another positive of this new
variety, Linscombe says, is that
farmers can apply enough nitrogen
to Della-2 to help reach its
Lone Star State Releases
In Texas, the new conventional varieties being released are
Colorado and Antonio – short, compact semi-dwarfs. According to
Dr. Ted Wilson, director of the Agrilife Research and Extension
Center in Beaumont and co-developer of Colorado, these varieties
were developed solely by Texas A&M. In the past, the university
worked with USDA to develop rice varieties, but USDA had decided
to no longer focus on rice breeding.
The lead breeder for Antonio and Colorado is Dr. Dante Tabien,
who notes that the new varieties were named for the Lower
Colorado River and the San Antonio River.
Both varieties have similar cooking qualities as other long-grain
lines, and the grain type is much like that of Presidio – a translucent,
pretty grain. The maturity of the two new releases is typical of
a semi-dwarf, long-grain variety. Colorado and Antonio have very
good disease packages. They are moderately resistant to panicle
blight and have low level resistance to neck blast, leaf smut, narrow brown leaf spot and brown spot, but not straighthead.
“We carry out trials every year that we call the Uniform Rice
Regional Nursery where we test
varieties across Texas, Louisiana,
Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri,”
Wilson says. “We have
checks, or standards, so we can
compare new material with old
material to ensure that we are
developing something better.
“In Texas, Colorado, which
averaged a 74 percent total milling
yield, was No. 1,” he adds. “The
next best was Presidio at 72.3 percent.
For the total milling yield,
Antonio was in the middle of the
pack at just over 70 percent,
which is still respectable.”
For whole grain yield, Presidio
was No. 1 at 65 percent, edging
out Colorado at 64 percent. After
taking an average across all of the
states, Colorado was No. 1, and
Antonio was No. 2.
Yield And Economic Analysis
In state trials, Colorado proved
to be a healthy yielder, averaging
8,850 pounds per acre for main
crop and 3,044 pounds for ratoon
crop for a total of 11,894. Antonio
averaged 8,759 pounds per acre
for main crop and 3,155 pounds
per acre on ratoon crop for a total
“Even though Colorado had the
highest yield in the state for main
crop, Antonio, because it is a better
ratooner, came in first for main
plus ratoon yield,” Wilson says.
“Colorado is a better main crop
producer and has a slightly higher
In an economic analysis of all
of the varieties tested in Texas (main plus ratoon) using a $13.50/cwt
price, Colorado, because it has a higher milling yield, had a gross
income per acre of $1,658. Antonio came in at $1,618.
“Colorado was the highest valued of all the varieties tested in
Texas, while Presidio came in second and Antonio came in third,”
As far as seed availability, 2012 will be a seed increase year for Colorado
and Antonio, with commercial production anticipated for 2013.
The primary source of funding for the rice breeding programs in
Louisiana and Texas comes from rice growers through the check-off
funds, administered by the Louisiana Rice Research Board and the
Texas Rice Research Foundation, respectively. Wilson says other
sources of funds for their program come from the state of Texas
through Texas A&M, along with federal grants.
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.