AgCenter research station hosts representatives of Italian seed company

(07/22/16) CROWLEY, La. – Representatives of an Italian rice seed company toured the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station on July 19-20 to learn how new varieties are developed for Louisiana farmers.

Massimo Biloni, general manager of SAPISE, said the company wanted to visit the Rice Research Station because of the numerous varieties developed there.

Italian and American rice growers are not in direct competition, Biloni said. Italian rice growers produce a wide variety of the grain, including round rice and rice for a wide range of Mediterranean dishes including risotto and paella.

“We can exchange information and ideas,” Biloni said.

Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Research Station, said both sides benefit from this kind of relationship. “I think there’s a huge potential for collaboration between the station and this entity in Italy that will be a benefit to farmers here and in the European Union,” he said.

The Italian group talked with researchers at the station and saw rice farmers harvesting their crop.

Rice grown in Italy won’t be harvested until September and October, Biloni said. The start of the growing season presented a challenge with cold, rainy weather in May.

Biloni said 20 years ago, 12,000 farmers grew rice in Italy, but that number has fallen to 4,000, while the average farm size has increased.

Linscombe has visited Italy several times to see rice farming and research. The average rice farm in Italy is considerably smaller than U.S. farms, he said, averaging roughly 150 acres.

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LSU AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso, far right, shows representatives of an Italian rice seed company the techniques he uses in the greenhouse for starting rice plants to be used in the breeding program at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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LSU AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe, left, shows a rice field to representatives of an Italian rice seed company during their visit to the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station on July 19-20. Photo by Bruce Schultz

7/22/2016 7:04:03 PM
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