Louisiana farmers benefit from global cooperation in rice breeding

Frances Gould  |  5/31/2016 3:05:12 PM

Cooperation with other rice researchers, domestic and abroad, benefits ongoing work at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station and ultimately helps farmers, according to Steve Linscombe, director.

The LSU AgCenter is one of the five southern rice-growing states participating in the Uniform Regional Nursery. The universities each provide experimental lines to be grown throughout the region, up to a total maximum of 200.

“This allows breeders to see how the lines perform at four other locations,” Linscombe said.

The different environments provide a picture of how the lines will perform in different soils, climates and a diversity of disease pressure.

“It gives me the opportunity to look at the advanced experimental lines in other programs,” he said. “Often we will see experimental lines from other states that can be used to make crosses.”

The LSU AgCenter worked with other universities in recent years on a federally-funded cooperative project that studied sheath blight resistance and higher quality milling.

The LSU AgCenter is a member of the hybrid rice consortium in an agreement with other public rice research institutes in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas and Texas, said Jim Oard, LSU AgCenter hybrid breeder.

“We believe it is in the best interest of the university to cooperate,” Oard said.

Researchers share germplasm, which benefits the breeding program by having additional rice lines to use in breeding programs, he said.

Last year, the LSU AgCenter worked with the University of Arkansas in a cooperative hybrid yield trial, Oard said. “We found out that our hybrid didn’t lodge in Arkansas.”

Harrell, LSU AgCenter rice specialist and agronomist, has worked with other universities on research projects involving arsenic and greenhouse gases.

At the Rice Technical Working Group meeting held every other year, researchers from industry and academia, including the LSU AgCenter, meet and share their research findings on a number of projects. The next RTWG will be held in Galveston, Texas, in March.

The LSU AgCenter has been involved in many cooperative endeavors internationally, including researchers in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Philippines, Japan and China.

The germplasm used to start the LSU AgCenter hybrid program originated from Chinese lines. Seaman Knapp, regarded as the pioneer of the cooperative extension model as well as a pioneer in Louisiana rice production, obtained lines of rice from Japan that were used to start a breeding program at LSU.

“I can say without any reservation, international cooperation has been to our advantage,” Linscombe said.

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