Breeders developing lines for Latin American tastes

The breeding program at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station is developing rice tailored for Latin American palates.

In recent years, buyers in Central and South America have expressed concern that American rice no longer meets their needs.

“Our rice used to be considered high-quality there, and now it’s not,” said Adam Famoso, LSU AgCenter rice breeder.

He said the market is insisting on a long-grain rice with less chalk, along with high amylose that results in a nonsticky texture when cooked. In addition, those buyers want a long grain length, in excess of 7 millimeters.

Famoso said American rice has changed, but so have the preferences of buyers to the south.

“Over the last 10 years or so, concerns over grain quality have become an important topic of discussion, and our industry is trying to address these concerns,” Famoso said.

Famoso began work in 2018 to develop a variety that would meet the needs of those customers. In 2019, doctoral student Raul Guerra joined the project to focus specifically on this topic.

“Raul’s work is to help define what our target cooking profile should be to meet the expectations of the Latin American export market,” Famoso said. “This work is being supported by USA Rice is a foundational step to maximize the efficiency of our breeding efforts.”

Famoso and his crew started by making breeding populations between low-chalk Clearfield Jazzman lines and CL163, a Mississippi high amylose line. Brijesh Angira used his genetic marker expertise to screen more than 6,000 F2 and F3 plants to select only plants that were fixed for high amylose, low gel temp and no aroma. Instead of growing those crosses to maturity, leaf sample tissue was used to genetically screen the crosses for amylose, gel temperature and chalk.

“It allows us to throw away everything that is not desired,” Famoso said.

Famoso said marker-assisted selection was key to streamlining the breeding process and eliminating three years of tedious work.

“We’re hopeful that at least one variety will come out of these,” he said.

The result was 200 lines screened for planting in Puerto Rico. Those 200 were further reduced to 140, and these 140 lines were evaluated in 2020 for agronomic and grain quality and cooking characteristics. Researchers will select the top 30 to 40 lines for multilocation testing in 2021.

In addition, he said one line, LA2126, is closer to release and shows the most potential of the high amylose material. It is being grown now in Puerto Rico for more seed and purification.

Costa Rican buyers have expressed interest in trying that line, Famoso said, and based on their findings it could be further refined into a variety, perhaps as soon as 2023.

“We have five or six other advanced lines that are candidates to better meet their expectations,” he said.

Famoso said the lines also could be potential parents for future crosses.

He detailed his work on this topic during a USA Rice symposium in October that brought industry representatives from the U.S. and Latin America together to discuss the quality issues of American rice.

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Rice in a field for a seed increase approaches maturity at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. The breeding department has developed lines of rice that could meet the requirements of Latin American buyers.

11/24/2020 10:01:25 PM
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