Expert continues work to develop hybrid rice

Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce  |  10/24/2013 6:20:33 PM

Weiki Li makes a test cross in the greenhouse in his work to develop hybrid rice. Li and LSU AgCenter rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha expect to make 500 test crosses in their work during 2011.

A visiting Chinese scientist continued his work in 2010 to develop hybrid rice adapted for Louisiana. And hybrid rice expert Weike Li said the yield of one hybrid exceeded U.S. conventional rice by several hundred pounds.

"Both parents of this line are from Chinese germplasm," Li said. "Next year, we can go into more seed production."

Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter regional director and research coordinator of the Rice Research Station, said the hybrid shows significant promise.

"In limited testing, that line looked very good," Linscombe said. "It looked good enough that we will have a large-scale increase."

Linscombe said it is not known if the male and female lines would have the same growth schedule. "In this case, it worked out that we could plant both at the same time," he said, however.

According to Linscombe, Li is skilled at knowing how to use the correct amount of fertilizer at the right time to make sure two lines flower simultaneously.

Even if a commercial hybrid came out of the work at the Rice Research Station, it probably would require corporate resources to bring it to market, Linscombe said.

He also said the process of producing hybrid seed is difficult. "Even if you are successful, you’ve got to produce that seed every year," he explained.

And Linscombe said it’s not known until a plant matures whether pollination has occurred to produce a hybrid. "That’s why hybrid seed is so difficult and expensive," he added.

LSU AgCenter rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha and Li made 475 test crosses in 2010.

"Next year, we will have about 500 test crosses," Li said.

Sha said when the hybrid project started in 2009 hand transplanting was required to start test plots after a wait of several months to get the Chinese seed out of quarantine when it was brought into the United States. For 2010, the plots were drill-seeded at an optimum planting time, he said.

Li said the program met its objective in 2010 of obtaining enough seed. "This will ensure our future research," he said, with Sha adding similar comments about the future.

"Next year, we can work on a larger scale because we will have more seed available," Sha said.

Checkoff funds for this
project in 2010: $80,000

(This article was published in the 2012 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)

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