As for new rice varieties, Moldenhauer believes producers should take a hard look at Taggart.

“It’s a really good variety. Taggart has always had high yields but there were some concerns that it is a bit later in maturity. Actually, the same concern exists for the Roy J release. Taggart reaches 50 percent heading in 96 days compared to Wells in 92 days. So, Taggart is four days later – about the same as Drew and three days later than Lagrue.”

Taggart is about the height of Drew, a bit taller than Wells and Francis. It also has a larger kernel size.

“Because of the larger kernel some thought ‘Taggart was just for parboil.’ That isn’t true because it has good milling. But with the longer kernel it is great for parboil. The European and Middle Eastern markets want that big Lebonnet-sized kernel and Taggart provides that.”

Plant pathologists say Taggart also has better tolerance to a lot of Mid-South rice diseases.

One other point of interest is how Taggart has done in ratoon systems. In 2007 Texas ratoon crop research, “it has 17,000 pounds of yield (a 12,000-pound main crop and a 5,000-pound ratoon crop). The other varieties did not compare to those numbers.”

Consider, in the same test, Francis as a ratoon crop produced about 13,000 pounds and Cocodrie was at 11,000 pounds.  

Another variety, Roy J, has very high yields and stiff straw. That’s a major advantage, says Moldenhauer. “It stands up very well with very good yield potential. We harvested the foundation seed field. People walk through there (rouging off-types and pulling weeds) all the time and, despite all the traffic, it dried at 210 bushels per acre.”

Roy J is about the same height as Taggart and Wells.

Templeton is the variety to consider if fields are prone to rice blast.

“If you have blast issues, Templeton is a good variety. It may not have the spectacular yield you can get out of Roy J or Taggart but it is much higher yielding than any other conventional variety that is available with blast resistance.

“We looked closely at Templeton after we released Banks, which was resistant to most common blast races. However, Banks wasn’t resistant to the IE-1k race, which had never been a problem. Banks had a problem with the race IE-1k especially on sandy soils that couldn’t hold water. That knocked Banks back so we were looking for another blast-resistant variety.”

It turned out Templeton rates MR-R (moderately resistant to resistant) to IE-1k and resistant to the other common races in Arkansas. It also has good yield potential, good milling and is about the same height as Wells with a similar maturity to Lagrue and Taggart.  

For comparison, in 2009, Templeton, Taggart, Lagrue and Drew all headed in 97 days. Wells headed in 95 days.

“There isn’t a lot of difference in maturity there.”

What about availability?

“Roy J should be available as registered seed, in 2011. Taggart and Templeton should be available as certified seed.”