The effects of late summer hurricanes played havoc with research trials throughout the lower Mid-South. Arkansas rice studies weren’t spared.

“This has not been a good year to get much research out of the field,” says Karen Moldenhauer, rice breeder stationed at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, Ark.

Even so, numerous lines continue to show great promise. Moldenhauer had two lines in 10-acre foundation seed increases this year. The first, RU041182, has been in the program the longest.

“It has good blast tolerance and yields the same as Francis and Wells with moderate resistance to the race IE1K, which was a problem for the Banks variety. It’s moderately susceptible to sheath blight and bacterial panicle blight.”

The grain size is similar to Drew with plant height and lodging characteristics like Wells. It has Drew, Katy and several others in its parentage. Maturity is similar to LaGrue, “which means it’ll be a day or two later than Wells. That isn’t prohibitively late, by any means.”

Milling appears to be a bit better than Wells. “For a four-year milling means, it’s produced a 60-71 compared to Wells at 57-72. Francis was also at 60-71, LaGrue was 58-70 and Cybonnet was 63-72 — and Cybonnet is one of the best milling varieties out there.”

The second variety in a 10-acre foundation seed field is RU061188. It’s come into play because it has a very large kernel that could fit parboil industry and European market needs.

“Around 2000 to 2002, Producers Mill and Riceland expressed interest in a larger kernel. This provides that with a yield potential of Wells, Francis and LaGrue. It’s only been in the test for three years, but its yield average was 180 bushels per acre. During the same span, Wells was at 177 bushels and Francis was at 180. So it’s right there with them.”

As for milling, on a two-year average, it has a 56-71 compared to Wells at 53-71, Francis 57-70, LaGrue at 56-70 and Cybonnet at 60-71.

“So even with a larger kernel, it has fairly good milling. I don’t think I’d want to leave it out in the field for a long time because I would expect the large kernel to break up a bit more.”

This line is about two days later in maturity than Drew and three days later than LaGrue. Its plant height is similar to LaGrue but lodging resistance is like Wells. “It doesn’t lodge quite as badly as LaGrue.

“It is susceptible to blast under Arkansas conditions — it is similar to Wells as far as susceptibility. It’s also moderately susceptible to sheath blight and bacterial panicle blight. That means it’s a bit better with panicle blight than Wells and Francis.”

Both of the new lines have typical, Southern long-grain cooking qualities. While a final decision hasn’t yet been made, “barring unforeseen circumstances, they should be released in January. I’m still trying to pull all the data together. That means they’d go to seed growers in 2009, would be registered in 2010 and certified in 2011.”

Moldenhauer says it’s always interesting to see where new releases are readily accepted. “I never know. For example, Francis is a terrific variety for about 11 percent of the acreage in the state. It’s grown year-in and year-out and on that acreage they can’t find anything to beat it. It’s hard to say where a new variety will find a home or how it’ll be used.”

Moldenhauer also is working with Clearfield lines. Three look promising.

“Of course, those will go to BASF to see if one, or two, might be released. The lines have pretty good yield potential.”

The rice breeder is watching a traditional, tall line very closely. The two-year average in yield trials was 173 bushels per acre, “and we had some bad testing locations, especially Clay County, which was hit by Gustav.” Over the same time, Francis hit 178 bushels and Wells was 169 bushels.

“I haven’t run a statistical analysis yet, but I’d be surprised if they (aren’t all even). Chuck Wilson (Arkansas Extension rice specialist) has had that line in different locations around the state. He’s found it has done very well.”

The other two Clearfield lines are shorter, semi-dwarf types — 88 centimeters tall and 99 centimeters (for comparison, CL161 is a semi-dwarf at 105 centimeters tall). Because they didn’t lodge, they yielded well at the Clay County location. Both had yields around 163 bushels per acre in the Arkansas Rice Performance Trials (ARPT) and have very good milling. In the 2007 ARPT, which was a bad milling year overall, one milled 59-70 and the other milled 58-69. At the same time, Wells milled 48-70, Francis was at 53-70 and Cybonnet at 58-71.

“Those numbers are from tests where the lines weren’t treated with Newpath. In this year’s test with Newpath at the Stuttgart location, IMI, one did 190 bushels per acre. The other yielded 182 bushels. From the same location, CL161 yielded 177 bushels. I don’t know what happened with CL171AR, but it didn’t do well, at all: 155 bushels. So those lines definitely have higher yield potential.”

Another long-grain line in the research pipeline has good lodging resistance and also did well in the hard-hit Clay County tests. The two-year yield average for it is 194 bushels per acre. Compare that to Francis at 178 bushels, Wells at 175, LaGrue at 174 and Cybonnet at 158. It also out-yielded the hybrids.

In 2007, the line milled a 54-70 beside Well’s 48-70, Francis at 53-70, LaGrue at 52-69 and Cybonnet at 58-71.

“It really looks good and is very consistent: 154 bushels to 190 over all the locations. This year, a lot of varieties did poorly in southeast Arkansas while this one did 160 bushels per acre. So it’s done very well all over the state.”

The line has a height between LaGrue and Wells.

“It has stiffer straw, though, so it has better lodging resistance than Wells. The grain size is similar to Wells, so it’s a bit larger. Also like Wells, it is susceptible to blast under Arkansas growing conditions. It’ll probably be like Wells with panicle blight, although I’m waiting for more data. It’s moderately susceptible to sheath blight.

“If everything goes according to plan,” the line should be in farmers’ hands by 2012.

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com