Rice Variety Selection
Variety selection is not a decision to be made lightly as it is the most important decision facing a producer going into the season. No other input can radically change the yield potential to the extent that variety selection can. This decision can be challenging, but through the LSU AgCenter, producers do have information at their disposal to improve this decision-making process. Fortunately, growers in Louisiana have multi-environment data to use when selecting varieties.
In addition to variety testing on research stations, the LSU AgCenter collaborates with rice producers to evaluate varieties directly on their farms. These trials provide valuable yield data from local growing conditions and agronomic practices. For best use of the “Rice Varieties and Management Tips” publication, we recommend judging variety yield results by looking at performance and stability. Performance refers to identifying the varieties that are high yielding in environments that best represent your local farm. Stability refers to the performance of a variety across multiple environments across the state and other states. It is important for growers to consider both factors when making variety decisions.
Variety yield potential is an important trait in selecting a variety, but other varietal characteristics should also be considered. How these criteria rank in importance to the grower may vary from one grower to the next and may vary from one field to the next.
Avant (LA) is a new variety available from Louisiana. It is a very early, high-yielding, long-grain rice semi-dwarf variety with very good yield potential. It has shown very good lodging resistance and excellent ratoon potential. Avant is the earliest variety available, five to 10 days earlier to 50% days to heading than Cheniere. It has traditional Southern long-grain cooking characteristics, with intermediate amylose and gel temp. Avant contains the CRSP2.1 gene and is resistant to narrow brown leaf spot and moderately susceptible to Cercospora infection on the stem. It is rated as susceptible to sheath blight, moderately susceptible to blast and bacterial panicle blight, and moderately resistant to false smut.
Consult as many different sources as possible for information. Variety Selection is the most important part of Rice Production. The 2024 “Rice Varieties and Management Tips” publication is available at https://www.lsuagcenter.com/profiles/astrahan/articles/page1701362113346.
A Good Choice of Medium-Grain Varieties
In California, most acreage is devoted to high-quality, medium-grain varieties. In 2023, over 94% of the acreage was grown to medium grains. There are currently six medium-grain varieties to choose from: very early (M-105), early (M-206, M-209, M-210, and M-211), and late-maturing (M-401 – a premium medium grain). Here are some things to consider when making a choice.
M-105 is our earliest variety. It is about one to two days earlier than M-206 in the northern part of the valley and three to five days earlier in the southern, cooler parts of the valley. It has excellent yield potential. This year, it had the highest yields in our yield contest with a yield of 132.5 cwt/acre. It also tends to yield the highest in our variety trials located in the southern portion of the valley. It is an excellent choice to plant early in season in order to get an early start on harvest. The knock on M-105 is that it can lodge; however, in our variety trials (and other trials at the Rice Experiment Station), there is no indication that its lodging potential is different than M-206.
Both M-206 and M-210 are nearly identical except that M-210 has blast resistance. They are both early varieties and stable across environments. In areas with blast, or if dry seeding, M-210 is an excellent choice. In 2023, blast was wider spread than normal. For growers who have only used M-206, try using M-210 on a field and see how it compares. You should have very similar results.
In terms of yield potential, M-209 and M-211 have the highest yield potential. M-211 regularly out yields other medium grains by one to three cwt/acre. Both M-209 and M-211 are longer in duration than M-206 and neither are well suited to cooler areas (M-209 being the least suited). Duration is also important when thinking about water limitations as they require more water to irrigate. Achieving good milling quality is one issue with these varieties. Milling quality drops rapidly when harvest grain moisture drops below 20%. Given this, it may not be wise to plant these varieties on a large number of acres. On a positive note, these varieties are less prone to lodging. This is partly due to thicker tillers. Some growers indicate that managing the rice straw in M-211 is harder than for other varieties. Finally, where kernel smut is an issue, M-209 is one of the more-susceptible medium grains.
California’s first herbicide-resistant variety M-521 has been approved for release. However, seed production for this variety will not proceed until the herbicide is approved.
Try Something New
If new rice cultivars continue to be released at this rate, “we’re going to need a bigger boat.” As more offerings enter the rice market each year, there are more options available to find the right fit for your farm.
It’s always best to try new things on smaller acres, especially if you are satisfied with your current options. Going into the 2024 season, there are a number of new cultivars to keep an eye on, no matter your preferred rice type.
First, let’s talk long-grain conventional (non-herbicide-tolerant) cultivars. Ozark will have good availability and appears to perform better than or equal to Diamond while having a similar overall agronomic package. Ozark and Nutrien’s DG263L, the most widely grown pureline variety, have performed similarly the past few years.
For the hybrids, RiceTec (RT) 7302 appears to have an edge over the long-time standard XP753. This is a considerable statement given the performance of XP753 for roughly a decade. RT7401 will also be in the mix with similar yields to XP753 and better milling yield.
Clearfield long-grain variety offerings will expand to include CLL18 and CLL19, in addition to the already popular CLL16. CLL18 and CLL19 offer higher yield potential compared to CLL16 but the packages differ. Compared to CLL16, CLL18 has less dependable blast tolerance while CLL19 is more susceptible to sheath blight.
Provisia variety offerings remain limited but PVL04 is coming online, which appears slightly better yielding than PVL03 with other similar characteristics. MaxAce technology also has limited offerings, mainly those we’ve seen before. RTv7231MA and RT7331MA will have similar availability as the past two seasons.
FullPage hybrids are also similar for 2024, with RT7521FP once again leading the way. RT7421FP is similar in maturity but does provide a different choice while RT7321FP will begin to fade as an option.
For medium grains, there are a few favorable options emerging. Titan will still be widely planted, primarily because more seed is available. Taurus and ProGold M3 look to be steps back in the right direction to the types of yields we at one time depended on from Jupiter (wave bye-bye). Another new option is RT3202, a medium-grain hybrid. It displayed excellent yields in one year of testing, so all eyes will be on its performance and acceptance in 2024.
There are plenty of additional available cultivars out there to look at, but these are some of the more notable ones. We always want to spread our risk out, so while we do that, we should use the opportunity to see how new offerings fit into our systems.
Review the results of the Arkansas Rice Performance Trials at https://uaex.uada.edu/rice. The Arkansas Rice Performance Trials table provides multi-year data, but have a look at the details of site-by-site performance that can be found in the complete published data. Let us know if we can help.
Cultivar Testing Aids Missouri Rice Producers
While cultivar selection depends upon a lot of factors, our rice research team conducts a wide array of cultivar trials on different soil types, planting dates, irrigation systems, and even farmers. This past year, the Missouri Rice Agronomy program in cooperation with the Missouri Rice Council planted 30 cultivars in 22 unique environments, including planting dates ranging from mid-March to mid-June, flood-irrigated and furrow-irrigated rice, and on-farm locations. These trials can be a good tool to aid in your cultivar selection in 2024.
We generally like to look at a three-year average before making bold statements, but since we started these two years ago, we look at a two-year average this year. When looking at hybrids, the conventional (no special herbicide tolerance) hybrid RT7302 has consistently produced yields as good or better than RT XP753, the gold standard for hybrid production for some years now. If interested in hybrids with herbicide technology, RT7321 FP has performed slightly better than the rest, but the rest of the pack is not far behind. RT7331 MA is a great option for quizalofop tolerance but has been in short supply in the past.
If looking toward inbred varieties, DG263L remains a great conventional option along with Ozark, a new University of Arkansas release. The frontrunner for us in the past two years when seeking Clearfield tolerance is CLL18, which should have a much greater supply for the 2024 crop. CLL18 has averaged 12 bushels per acre better than CLL16 in our trials, and very similarly to DG263L and Ozark.
When looking at yield averages, it is important to know that this includes multiple soil types and irrigation systems. We break out grain and milling yield data individually in our cultivar trial reports, including agronomic measures such as canopy height and lodging. Full 2023 reports should be available in January on our Extension website and the Missouri Rice Council webpage (www.missouririce.com). Preliminary yield numbers can also be found posted throughout harvest on Facebook and Twitter (@mizzourice, @jchlapecka).
In cultivar selection, your production system (flood vs. furrow-irrigated) matters. The table below summarizes our 2023 cultivar trials in both systems. You can find more information on cultivar trials and other studies at https://extension.missouri.edu/programs/rice-extension. Our crew hopes you all had a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year as we remember that He is the true reason for celebration. As always, eat MO rice!