LSU AgCenter Researchers Report On High-Protein Rice, Other Projects During Field Day

Steven Linscombe, Schultz, Bruce, Wenefrida, Ida  |  6/30/2007 2:15:58 AM

LSU AgCenter researcher Dr. Ida Wenefrida provides details on her work during the Rice Research Station field day Thursday (June 28). Wenefrida, a plant biotechnologist, is working to develop a variety of rice with increased levels of protein.

News Release Distributed 06/29/07

CROWLEY – An LSU AgCenter researcher gave a progress report on her project to develop rice with increased protein levels during the Rice Research Station field day Thursday (June 28) here.

Dr. Ida Wenefrida, an LSU AgCenter plant biotechnologist, explained her project during a tour of research work that was part of the field day, which was attended by more than 500 people.

"Researchers are being encouraged to look beyond yield," Wenefrida said at her stop on the field tour.

Lines showing promise for high-protein levels have been developed from varieties of Francis, Wells, Cypress and Cocodrie.

She said genetic markers are being used to determine if new lines of rice have increased levels of specific amino acids that make up protein.

"If we can increase the level of certain amino acids, we can enhance the nutritional value of rice," Wenefrida said.

Another stop on the field tour included the project of Dr. Brooks Blanche, an LSU AgCenter agronomist and rice breeder, who gave details on his research into blending hybrid seed with variety seed to find out if the combination provides any advantages in terms of resistance to lodging and disease.

At the variety stop on the tour, Drs. Steve Linscombe and Xueyan Sha of the LSU AgCenter described their ongoing efforts at rice breeding.

Linscombe said several new Clearfield lines are being developed. Sha said a medium-grain rice with grain size larger than that of the variety Jupiter could be released for 2008 seed production.

Sha also said a Jasmine line is almost ready for release – becoming the first U.S.-produced Jasmine variety. It would have the advantage of a high-yielding Jasmine, he said.

After the field tour, Johnny Broussard, director of legislative affairs for the USA Rice Federation, urged attendees to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill for the upcoming debate on a new farm bill.

"If you’re in the rice industry, I can’t urge you enough," he said.

Broussard said letters faxed to congressional leaders stressing the importance of the agricultural safety net to the rural economy would be the best way to defend a strong national farm policy.

Broussard said nonagricultural interests are trying to change agriculture programs, and many commodity groups also are seeking modifications.

Fruit and vegetable growers want more from the next farm bill, he said, while other groups want to impose payment limits and eliminate the three-entity rule.

Dr. Mike Salassi, an LSU AgCenter economist, said rice production is expected to total 183 million hundredweight this year, making it the smallest crop since 1997, while ending stocks are projected at 25.7 million hundredweight, 38 percent less than last year.

"That’s going to keep prices up," he said, adding that the projected average price is $16.60 a barrel.

Marvin Lehrer, Cuba adviser for the USA Rice Federation, said the prospect of fully opening Cuba to buying American rice remains problematic.

"We really have a long way to go," Lehrer said.

Cuba is a good rice customer, he said, adding, "Rice is the basic food in Cuba. It is a rice-consuming country that loves long-grain rice."

Lehrer said the market appeared to be opening in 2000, but restrictions by the U.S. government have made trade with Cuba more difficult.

LSU AgCenter Chancellor Dr. Bill Richardson said research projects at the Rice Research Station and other LSU AgCenter facilities across the state are intended to help agriculture.

"They help maintain the viability of the industry," he said.

After the field day, the Louisiana Rice Research Board elected Jackie Loewer of Branch as its chairman, Clarence Berken of Lake Arthur as vice chairman and Richard Fontenot of Ville Platte as secretary-treasurer.

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Contacts:
Dr. Steve Linscombe at (337) 788-7531 or SLinscombe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Dr. Ida Wenefrida at (337) 788-7531 or IWenefrida@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or BSchultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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