Southeast Missouri State dedicates new rice research greenhouse

cutting ribbon at SEMO rice lab

Officials cut the ribbon during the dedication of the Southeast Missouri State University’s new rice breeding research lab on its Malden, Mo., campus—photos courtesy Southeast Missouri State University

Officials with Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture recently dedicated a new greenhouse designed for rice research at its Malden Regional Campus.

The 1,500-square-foot facility is expected to broaden rice breeding efforts spearheaded by the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council.

Numerous university classes focused on breeding and genetics, horticulture, plant physiology and soil sciences also will use the facility.

The greenhouse is being funded in part with a $100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant targeted at supporting rice breeding research and furthering research of Missouri rice.

“Through new rice breeding techniques, producers may experience improved quality and larger yields during harvest,” Phyllis Minner, area USDA Rural Development area director, said in a news release. “These rice production advancements could lead to an improved quality of life through increased agricultural revenue.”

Dr. Julie Weathers, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture, says the award to construct a greenhouse research and laboratory space for producing public domain rice varieties in southeast Missouri is a tremendous investment.  It will enhance regional and global cooperation among rice breeders in Missouri and other states, and enhance classroom and undergraduate instruction.

The greenhouse is a new addition on the east side of the Malden Campus, just off the building’s rice lab. Kiefner Brothers Construction of Cape Girardeau, Mo., served as general contractor for the project. The greenhouse was manufactured by Conley’s Manufacturing and Sales and installed by Jamieson Construction LLC. Work began in November and was completed earlier in March.

SEMO rice research greenhouse

The new rice research laboratory at the Southeast Missouri State University’s Malden, Mo., campus.

The greenhouse also is within close proximity to the Missouri Rice Research Farm on Highway J between Malden and Glennonville, Mo., and to Southeast’s regional campus in Kennett.

The facility’s siding and roof are made of polycarbonate, offering a glass-like appearance. This is the most efficient type of greenhouse, based on its size and construction.

Dr. Christian De Guzman, agriculture research fellow and rice breeder hired at Southeast last fall, says the new greenhouse will enhance students’ knowledge and skills about plant breeding. Students will work as research assistants alongside him to better understand rice production with particular focus on rice breeding.

The greenhouse has two purposes. It will be used to enhance rice breeding efforts by allowing the rice breeder to grow and house rice varieties used in the breeding program each year. During the winter, it also will allow the breeder and to grow out and evaluate the offspring of varieties crossed and bred.