The LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station
has a long history of developing new rice varieties to help improve the viability of the Louisiana rice industry. In fact, the station has developed and released 44 improved varieties in its 101-year history. Most of these varieties have been conventional long- and medium-grain varieties suitable for domestic and export use by the rice industry. In recent years a great deal of breeding effort has gone into the development of Clearfield varieties, which contain a special gene for herbicide resistance. The Clearfield technology has been rapidly adopted by the rice industry and could account for more than 70 percent of Louisiana’s rice acreage in 2010.
However, one area where the station has also excelled is in the development of specialty rice
varieties. A specialty variety is one that typically will have unique cooking and possibly aromatic characteristics. Most of these specialty varieties are grown on a limited acreage by a small number of producers to supply a somewhat limited consumer market. Specialty varieties released by the station over the years include Toro (1955), Della (1973), Toro-2 (1984), Dellrose (1995), Dellmati (1999) and, most recently, Jazzman (2009). Toro and Toro-2 are long-grain varieties that cook much softer and stickier than conventional long-grain types. Toro-2 is still grown on a limited acreage primarily for a small market of consumers that prefers this cook type in southern Louisiana. Della and Dellrose have conventional long-grain cooking characteristics but also yield a distinctive nutty aroma when cooking. Dellmati has a cooking aroma similar to Della but is characterized by a very slender grain that elongates much more than a traditional long-grain during the cooking process.
The newest specialty release, Jazzman, is a long-grain that also has a distinctive nutty aroma during the cooking process. This rice, however, cooks somewhat softer and moister than the Della-types. This rice variety was developed to have cooking and aroma characteristics very similar to jasmine rice, which is typically grown in Thailand. There has been a steady increase in jasmine rice from Thailand imported into the United States over the past 20 years to supply a growing demand. That demand has traditionally come from Americans of Southeast Asia descent. However, a growing number of other consumer groups have discovered this type of rice, and the demand for it continues to grow. There has been a concerted effort at the Rice Research Station for a number of years to develop a jasmine type. These efforts were successfully culminated with the release of Jazzman last year. The variety was developed by Dr. Xueyan Sha, who is the leader of the specialty variety development efforts at the rice station. Jazzman was grown on a limited acreage for seed and commercial production last year. This production showed that the variety has good yield potential and other agronomic characteristics as well as excellent milling, grain quality and aroma. Plans call for the variety to be grown on an expanded acreage in 2010.
The best news, however, is that because there was some commercial production in 2009, Jazzman rice is now available to consumers who would like to experience its unique cooking and aroma characteristics. Hoppe Farms Jazzman Rice (Brenda and Jimmy Hoppe) is available at several specialty stores along the I-10 corridor in southwest Louisiana as well as from their mail-order business [P.O. Box 59, Fenton, LA 70640 (337-756-2259) email
]. Falcon Rice Mill
in Crowley also has a Jazzman product under the label of Cajun Country Jasmine Rice. Falcon’s product is widely available in southern Louisiana and has recently been introduced in more than 100 H.E.B supermarkets in Texas. Jazzmen Rice LLC
is a new company from the New Orleans area that was created primarily to market Jazzman rice. Their product is milled by Louisiana Rice Mill in Crowley and is available across southern Louisiana as well as at a number of locations in southern Mississippi. If you would like to try this new unique product and cannot find it at your local grocery, contact one of the entities above.
A Very Special Lady
We all lost a very, very special lady on March 24. Ms. Bobbie Leonards was certainly one of a kind. She became my neighbor when I moved to the Rice Research Station many years ago and straight away made my family feel a welcome part of the community. She was one of the most pleasant and kind-hearted ladies that we ever had the pleasure to have known.
Permission granted by B. Leonards (LA Farm & Ranch), April 15, 2010 to republish article on www.lsuagcenter.com