Farming News - USDA rice breakthrough

USDA rice breakthrough

16 Jan 2014


Using conventional breeding, USDA scientists have produced a variety of rice that can outcompete weeds, whilst providing good grain quality and high yields. They say the rice is perfectly suited to low-input agriculture systems.  


Long-grain rice

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have developed a new rice cultivar that they claim can hold its own against hardy weed species, including barnyard grass, and lead to reduced herbicide use.


The rice, developed using conventional breeding methods, is the result of crossing standard U.S. long-grain varieties with indica rice from Asia. The rice was bred by David Gealy and colleagues with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture (UADA) Indica rices are known for their ability to outcompete many weeds using allelochemical root secretions and other defences. However, these rice species have certain drawbacks, including poor grain quality, which have affected their commercial uptake.


Gealy and colleagues crossed two commercial rice varieties with an indica line and evaluated the offspring over several years. The team examined the rices' grain yield and quality, early maturity, stem strength, pest and disease resistance, allelopathy to weeds and picked STG06L-35-061 as the front-running variety. Trials included growing the rice in weed-free and weed-infested plots alongside other commercial varieties, against which it yielded favourable results.


According to Gealy, the new rice's combination of traits will make it especially suited to organic and low-input production systems.