Rice breeder working to improve specialty varieties

Frances Gould  |  10/24/2013 10:53:28 PM

LSU AgCenter rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha selects panicles in his breeding program. Sha is working on developing new aromatic varieties.

LSU AgCenter rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha is working to improve the specialty rice varieties available to farmers.

In late 2010, the new variety Jazzman II was approved for release. Sha said the variety is superior to the Jazzman variety released last year because it has a stronger aroma.

Lab analyses determined the aroma of Jazzman II, previously called LA2149, is three times stronger than Thai Jasmine rice, Sha said.

"This means it has a very long shelf life," Sha said, adding that Thai Jasmine may be more than a year old before it ever makes it to shelves in U.S. stores. "We have a time advantage because we can have a fresher crop on the market."

The LSU AgCenter rice breeder said Jazzman II has a more slender grain shape than the wider shape of Jazzman, which makes its shape closer to that of Thai Jasmine.

Sha said he will continue working to get improved aromatic lines to farmers. During the past year, he grew 6,000 specialty progeny rows, and he selected panicles from 600 rows for cooking and testing. Out of the 600, he found 378 to have a strong aroma and he will plant those next year for further selection.

Sha said he wants to breed a new Jasmine-type line with good yield potential and disease resistance, but he points out he also has to consider the aromatic quality, slender grain shape and cereal chemistry.

"The success rate is dramatically reduced because you are looking for those extra traits," he explained.

Thai Jasmine lines cannot be grown in Louisiana, because those varieties are photoperiod sensitive and will not head until plants are subjected to shorter daylight periods in the fall. Because that rice traditionally is grown in Thailand, which is closer to the equator, the short day lengths are received at an appropriate time during the growing season there.

Sha also is working to develop the LA2140 line of rice, which he expects to be comparable to a Della rice, with a nutty flavor. Sha’s work is not solely focused on specialty rice, however. He also is working on a variety of other rice breeding projects.

Checkoff funds for this
project in 2010: $95,000

(This article was published in the 2011 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)

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