More in the pipeline

UArk doubles down on rice breeding efforts with 2 releases.

⋅ By Vicky Boyd ⋅

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has released a long-grain and a medium-grain rice variety, both with improved yield potentials over previous cultivars. They will undergo seed increase in 2022 with the hope of a limited commercial launch for the 2023 season, said Dr. Xueyan Sha, senior rice breeder who developed the two.

Ozark is a conventional-height traditional long-grain variety with improved yield potential over Diamond, a previous UA release. Taurus is a true semi-dwarf medium-grain variety with significantly improved yield potential over Jupiter, an older medium grain from the Louisiana State University breeding program.

The two releases mark a renewed effort by the University of Arkansas to bring quality rice varieties to the market.

“This is the first step — we’re going to have a lot more coming in the pipeline that will show even better yield potential,” Sha said. “It’s just doubling down on our efforts.”


A cross between Diamond and LaKast, Ozark is a tall-statured variety similar to Diamond. Nevertheless, he said, Ozark came through a number of hurricane and tropical storms during fall 2021 with minimal damage.

“Being taller doesn’t necessarily translate to lodging,” Sha said. “When we went through a hurricane last year, this variety performed much better than a semi-dwarf. This tall one stood much better because the sheath stayed green and withstood the wind.”

“The milled rice is very white, and also the cooked rice is very white,” Dr. Xueyan Sha said about Ozark.
Vicky Boyd

In 2021 Arkansas Commercial Rice Trials, Ozark ­— trialed as 20AR185 — yielded an average of 212 bushels per acre across 11 locations. Milling yield was 57-70. Diamond averaged 202 bushels per acre across the same 11 locations, with average milling yields of 59-69.

Ozark doesn’t have blast-resistance genes and has blast susceptibility similar to Diamond. But it isn’t considered very susceptible like Francis was.

Agronomically, growers should manage Ozark much as they would Diamond. But trials by University of Arkansas Extension plant pathologist Yeshi Wamishe found the new variety exhibited slightly less false smut infection and had slightly improved narrow brown leaf spot tolerance. Disease ratings for sheath blight and bacterial panicle blight were similar to Diamond.

Ozark kernel length falls into that 7-millimeter sweet spot sought by millers and buyers, he said. It also produces kernels less chalky than Diamond. At 23.5% amylose, the new variety has typical Southern long-grain cooking quality. “The milled rice is very white, and also the cooked rice is very white,” Sha said.

He said he settled on the Ozark name based on his previous breeding experience at LSU. There, rice breeder Steve Linscombe chose names, such as Cheniere and Pirogue, that paid homage to Louisiana. “We wanted to stick with an Arkansas connection,” Sha said of Ozark.


Taurus is a true semi-dwarf conventional medium grain, standing shorter than Jupiter, Titan and Clearfield CLM04, which is also from Sha’s breeding program. In three years of Arkansas Rice Performance Trials, Taurus showed a significant yield advantage over Jupiter, Sha said. 

Across 11 locations in 2021, Taurus yielded an average of 220 bushels per acre, with average milling yields of 62-71. Jupiter yielded an average of 197 bushels per acre, with milling averages of 65-69, while Titan yielded an average of 203 bushels per acre, with milling averaging 50-70.

Taurus is a new medium-grain with improved yield potential over Jupiter. It is from the breeding program of Dr. Xueyan Sha.
Photo courtesy Dr. Xueyan Sha

Taurus’ grain size is similar to CLM04 but larger than Jupiter’s. Compared to Titan, Taurus’ grain size is slightly smaller. The variety produces low-chalk kernels that are very translucent. 

The new medium grain is three days earlier than Jupiter but three days later than Titan. Like Titan, Taurus contains the Pi-ks and Pi-z genes for blast resistance.

Sha has already sent 2-pound samples to Kellogg’s for the past few years to get the processor’s take on its suitability. So far, he said they’ve seemed happy. The next step will be to send 1,000 pounds so Kellogg’s can run it through pilot-scale processing.

Sha said he chose to call the new variety Taurus to follow other recent Arkansas medium-grain releases named after constellations or planets.  

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