Another rice variety gaining popularity among Delta farmers is Priscilla, a Mississippi bred variety released commercially in 1997.

One of the first varieties to come out of the Delta Research and Extension Center's rice breeding program under the direction of Dwight Kanter, Priscilla boasts a three-year variety trial yield average of 173 bushels per acre. That puts Priscilla's yield average at 14 bushels per acre above Lemont, the variety standard often used when evaluating the performance of new rice varieties.

Milling yields for Priscilla have averaged two percent lower than Lemont, but this can be improved by harvesting at an 18- to 21-percent moisture level, according to Extension rice specialist Joe Street at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.

“Priscilla seed are larger than Lemont so planting the standard 90 pounds per acre is equivalent to planting 34 seed per square foot. In a good seedbed, this seeding rate is sufficient, but under rough seedbed conditions the seeding rate should be increased to 100 to 110 pounds per acre,” Street says. “Plant gibberellic acid treated seed 0.75 to 1-inch deep.”

Street also recommends growers planting Priscilla on first-year land decrease their fertility rates because of the variety's susceptibility for kernel smut disease.

Because Priscilla is moderately susceptible to kernel smut, nitrogen fertility should be managed accordingly, Street says. “Fertility research is inconclusive concerning Priscilla's response to nitrogen fertilizer, but to reduce the potential for smut, about two-thirds of the total nitrogen should be applied prior to permanent flood.”

“In the 1998 on-farm variety trials, the average nitrogen fertilizer use was 217 pounds per acre, and smut was not a problem in most locations. However, it was observed in some seed increase fields receiving high nitrogen fertilization,” he says. “We recommends 180 pounds of nitrogen per acre, and caution growers against adding more than 200 pounds. Two-thirds of the nitrogen fertilizer should be applied prior to permanent flood. Then, at midseason, apply the remainder in either one or two applications.”

Priscilla is also moderately susceptible to both blast and sheath blight. “In research plots, Priscilla yield response to fungicides applied for sheath blight has been about half that of Lemont. Fungicides should not be expected to improve Priscilla yields except in severe cases,” says Mississippi plant pathologist Gabe Sciumbato.

Although Priscilla has a California line in its background, it has reportedly not shown sensitivity to labeled rates of molinate (Arrosolo or Ordram), which is typical of some California lines. “We haven't observed any problems with sensitivity to molinate in either research plots or yield trials conducted at seven locations throughout the Delta,” Street says.

Because of its disease tolerance, Priscilla will remain green longer than Lemont, and sodium chlorate may be needed to dry-down the foliage to improve harvesting efficiency. “Priscilla is sometimes tough to harvest with a conventional combine header, but it is a good variety for stripper headers,” he says.

The relatively new Mississippi rice variety also averages two- to four-inches taller than Lemont, but seldom lodges because of its strong straw strength.