An LSU AgCenter geneticist is focused on a new generation of long-grain hybrids for his research at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station.
James Oard said these new combinations feature such beneficial characteristics as early maturity, decreased susceptibility to lodging and yields that are comparable to some commercial hybrids.
“These hybrids are showing a yield advantage anywhere from 10% to 15% over inbred varieties that we are testing,” he said.
Some of the preliminary yield trials have shown the new generation of hybrids producing 10,000 to 12,000 pounds per acre.
Oard said the majority of the candidate hybrids are early maturing and can play an important role during the active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
Along with striving to attain higher yields, Oard said another major effort is to develop new candidate hybrids that are more tolerant to lodging.
“With the previous combinations, the plants were tall and they tended to lodge,” he said. “This year, we are seeing hybrids more tolerant to lodging, and that is mostly due to the reduced height.”
In addition, some of the new candidate hybrids have smooth leaves, which is beneficial to farmers for ease in harvesting and to millers for ease in processing.
Even with promising results from the new hybrids that are currently being studied, Oard and his team are also looking in other directions to further increase yields for producers.
“With this new generation of parents, we have identified what we think are some elite females that are giving us high yields and tolerance to lodging,” Oard said. “Now, we are looking for new males that will give us that yield kick. This year, we have identified a few that are giving us a yield advantage.”
The search for new vigorous male lines is parallel to the work being done in the hybrid development program.
Though the breeders’ and geneticists’ combined efforts start at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, their most valuable data comes from the producers’ fields.
“That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s the most important data for us,” Oard said.
The researcher’s endeavor in creating promising hybrid varieties goes beyond Louisiana state lines. The Uniform Regional Nursery, from which hybrid yield data are being collected, is a conglomerate of test trial plots spread across Louisiana and five other states — Texas, Arkansas, California, Missouri and Mississippi.
Oard said it may take another two to three years for the new hybrids to be released commercially as he and his colleagues continue to collect data on the new lines in the multilocation field trials.
“We are still in the early phases of testing,” Oard said of the new hybrids. “We need to feel confident with the data.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture