You normally don't think of Hungary as important in the Arkansas rice industry, but a new variety developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture relies on a Hungarian rice germplasm as a key part of its genetic makeup.

Karen Moldenhauer, a rice breeder at the UA Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, Ark., says the new variety, Spring (RU0101093), will give Arkansas rice farmers a strong new, early-maturing line with the promise of good cold tolerance and strong seedling vigor.

“It's parentage includes an early Hungarian line that we crossed to other material in the mid 1980s. Unfortunately, this material turned out to be susceptible to rice blast. The Hungarian germplasm was a benefit because it had earliness. It headed in about 54 days.”

The early parent of Spring lacked blast resistance and did not have the yield of today's rices. It did have typical quality needed by the U.S. market.

Moldenhauer crossed this improved line with Tebonnet, Katy and Lagrue to increase yield and blast resistance while maintaining earliness. From these crosses, the current line, Spring, was created. Besides cold tolerance, Spring has better yield potential than the early parent as well as some blast tolerance and good long-grain cooking characteristics. “Spring also has better stink bug tolerance than Maybelle,” she says.

Besides good cold tolerance, the new variety “springs out of the ground” and grows well, according to Moldenhauer. “Last year, in the foundation seed field, it cut 163 bushels per acre dry, so it has good yield potential for something that early,” she says.

Moldenhauer says Spring matures about 10 days earlier than Cocodrie or Francis, and it matures about five days earlier than Jefferson.