Scientists at the LSU AgCenter have developed a new medium-grain rice variety, named Earl, that offers improved yield and disease resistance.
Earl has “inherently very good yield potential,” according to Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station at Crowley.
“This new variety addresses specific issues,” Linscombe said. “It has better resistance to blast disease and is a little higher yielding than Bengal, a variety we introduced in 1992.”
Bengal is the most widely grown medium-grain rice in Louisiana – with about 90 percent of the 38,000 to 40,000 acres of medium-grain rice in Louisiana – and it also dominates the Arkansas medium-grain production in about the same proportion, according to Dr. Bill Brown, associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter.
Rice farmers produced nearly $276 million worth of rice at farm prices in 1998, while value-added processing supplied another $82 million to the Louisiana economy in 1998, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“The variety is named in memory of Earl Sonnier, who was the director of foundation seed production at the Rice Research Station for many years as well as a recognized authority on rice seed production internationally,” Linscombe said.
The Rice Research Station has produced 250 hundredweight of Earl as foundation seed for 2000, said Dr. Joe Musick, the station’s resident director. The seed has been allocated to growers who will produce seed for the 2001 crop.
(This article was published in the spring 2000 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)