Breeding program relies on Puerto Rico nursery

Frances Gould  |  5/31/2016 3:25:39 PM

The LSU AgCenter rice breeding program relies heavily on the Puerto Rico nursery to grow new lines of rice that could become varieties. By growing lines of rice in Puerto Rico during the winter and early spring, considerable time can be reduced in the variety development workflow.

Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said farm manager Anthony Rivera is instrumental in the Puerto Rico facility’s success at the University of Puerto Rico Agricultural Experiment Station near LaJas.

“Anthony has been an asset to our breeding program to make sure all the agricultural practices are done properly and in a timely fashion,” Linscombe said.

Rivera said he cleared and laser-leveled an additional seven acres available for the LSU breeding program this year, increasing the total rice ground to the station to 87 acres.

“It’s a new area apart from the rest of the rice nursery, northeast of the station,” Rivera said.

In October, that tract was planted with seed from the Provisia project. The planting was accomplished with a grain drill that Linscombe shipped to Puerto Rico from the Rice Research Station.

Even though the island, a U.S. possession, has year-round weather, growing rice there is not easy. Insects are a threat throughout the year, and disease is prevalent. Hurricanes can be a threat, but the nursery is on the west side of the island, making it less vulnerable to storms that usually approach from the east.

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