Ida Wenefrida, Utomo, Herry S.
Ida Wenefrida and Herry Utomo
A non-GMO high-protein rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivar Frontière was recently developed by LSU AgCenter. It is the first high-protein rice cultivar developed for commercial applications anywhere in the world. Released in 2017, Frontière has a plant variety protection certificate issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Patent, USPTO No. 9888637, has been issued. It has an averaged grain protein content of 10.6 percent. Frontière is adapted to the rice-growing areas in Louisiana and has shown consistently higher grain protein content throughout multilocation trials in Louisiana and other places, including the LSU AgCenter Puerto Rico winter nursery and production fields in Illinois.
Frontière was derived from the Cypress cultivar, which is known for excellence in milling quality. It is a very early, lodging-resistant, semi-dwarf cultivar with 36 inches average height and 85 days from emergence to 50 percent heading. It has a first-crop yield of 5,946 pounds per acre. Similar to Cypress, Frontière rates moderately susceptible to highly resistant to rice blast and is susceptible to sheath blight. Its grain quality and characteristics are similar to Cypress, but its cook type is intermediate, differing from Cypress or Cocodrie, which both have a high cook type. Its distinctive cooking characteristic is probably because of the increased protein content. Frontière meets the industrial standards for commercial applications and is expected to perform well in Louisiana and surrounding regions.
No Need to Change Production Practices
No adjustment is needed to grow Frontière. Its management practices follow the recommendation previously set for Cypress. With a typical yield of 2.67 tons of rough rice or 1.7 tons of milled rice per acre, planting high-protein rice will result in about 331 pounds of additional protein produced with no extra cost. The additional amount of protein obtained is equivalent to the amount of protein obtained from 1,146 pounds of meat or 1,200 gallons of milk. With a total U.S. rice production area of 3.7 million acres, high-protein rice can produce an additional 0.23 million tons of protein. This is an incredible added value that can be generated without any additional cost or changing practices.
High Potential and New to the Market
High-protein rice was developed in anticipation of expanding U.S. and other markets for new food products that emphasize more nutritional values from major food crops, including rice. The availability of high-protein rice can directly support a number of nutritionally important rice-based products, such as rice milk, baby foods, cereals and crackers. High-protein rice can be tailored into functional foods for various purposes, or it can be used to meet the needs for individuals with specific genetic traits. High-protein rice can also be used to develop nutrition regimes or nutritionally dense food products for optimum fitness and health. Globally, more than 750 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition. About 520 millions of them live in rice-eating countries. This is a complex problem, and high-protein rice can provide profitability that can be used to help solve the worldwide problem across social, cultural and economic issues.
Because Frontière is new to the market, marketing channels have to be established. In parallel, research for the next generations of high-protein rice lines is being carried out for improved appeal to the markets.
Ida Wenefrida is an assistant professor, and Herry Utomo has an F. Avalon Daggett Professorship in Rice Research and is an associate professor at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, Crowley.
(This article appears in the winter 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Ida Wenefrida prepares a buffering solution to use on rice plant tissue to determine if genetic markers show lines of rice with increased protein levels. Photo by Bruce Schultz