New year, new varieties

California releases a premium Calrose medium grain and a high-yielding long grain.

• By Vicky Boyd,
Editor •

M-211 medium grain

M-211, known as 12Y2175 during breeding, is a premium Calrose-type medium grain recently released for seed production by the California Rice Experiment Station.

The California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation Inc. has approved the release of two new varieties from the Rice Experiment Station.

The medium-grain M-211 and long-grain L-208 will be sold for seed production this season and available commercially for growers for the 2021 season. Both were developed by a breeding team at the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, California, led by Dr. V.C. “Butz” Andaya. Other members of the team are Drs. Teresa De Leon, Shyamal Talukder and Cynthia Andaya.

The grower-funded Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, which owns the experiment station, will apply for U.S. Plant Utility Patents for both varieties. They also will be available exclusively to California rice growers. As such, export of seed is prohibited, and any breeding or genetic research first requires a Material Transfer Agreement.

M-211

M-211 is a high-yielding, early maturing, semi-dwarf Calrose-type variety with a higher yield potential than M-209 and M-206, says Dr. Kent McKenzie, Rice Experiment Station director. Based on three years of trials from 2017 through 2019, M-211 averaged 9,712 pounds per acre compared to 9,196 and 9,129 pounds per acre for M-209 and M-206, respectively.

The new variety is adapted to the warmer growing regions of Northern California. “It’s not a variety for Davis or cold locations,” McKenzie says. “If you go to the correct environment, it’s a good choice.”

A ‘premium Calrose’

Formerly designated as 12Y2175, M-211 has a complex pedigree that includes a number of Calrose varieties as well as the premium medium grain, M-401. The result is what McKenzie describes as a “premium Calrose.”

Historically, the Rice Experiment Station has referred to longer-season medium-grain varieties that cook up very soft, have a shiny grain and a different grain texture than Calrose as “premium medium-grains,” McKenzie says. M-401 is the most widely grown premium medium grain in the state.

Because M-211 has many Calrose characteristics but cooks more like M-401, it’s been described as a premium Calrose, he says.
In 2018, 19 individuals from six external organizations were asked to blindly grade the potential new release for a number of factors, such as grain appearance and cooking characteristics. Out of the 19, 18 responded favorably.

The new variety also was evaluated by mills and marketing organizations for its cooking quality and received unanimous ratings for high market acceptability.

To help ensure good milling yield potential, growers should not let harvest moistures fall below 20%, McKenzie says.

L-208

Although long-grain varieties occupy only a small percentage of California’s total acreage, Rice Experiment Station breeders continue to develop and release these new, improved grain types to diversify the portfolio.

L-208 has the same pedigree as L-207 but with earlier maturity, shorter plant height and increased yield potential.

It is adapted to the Sacramento Valley’s warmer production areas and is not recommended for cool or cold rice-producing environments.

Tested as 14Y1006, L-208 averaged 10,340 pounds per acre across 41 University of California Cooperative Extension trials. That compares to 10,000 and 9,190 pounds per acre for L-207 and L-206, respectively.

The new long grain reaches 50% heading at about 81 days, four days earlier than L207 and two days earlier than L-206. It also is about 3.5 inches shorter than L-207.

Kernel dimensions fall midway between L-207 and L-206, but L-208 has improved milling yields. It also has standard U.S. long-grain quality and starch characteristics.