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Researcher closing in on new rice

The 2003 results of the Mississippi rice variety trials are in. Thanks to breeding research funded by checkoff dollars through the Mississippi Rice Promotion Board, one of rice breeder Dwight Kanter's advanced lines ranked third in overall yield based on results from the seven on-farm test locations.

The breeding line, MSO3Y14, averaged 201 bushels per acre in the 2003 yield trials, placing it third only to an experimental hybrid line XP-710 with 219 bushels an acre and the commercially available Francis variety at 208 bushels.

In fact, three of the top 10 yielding varieties were products of Kanter's breeding research.

Another line, listed as MS03Y09, ranked seventh with an overall yield of 195 bushels per acre. The commercially available Priscilla, also a product of Mississippi's breeding program, ranked 10th with an overall average yield of 192 bushels per acre.

Kanter, who is headquartered at the Delta Research and Extension Center at Stoneville, Miss., said the MSO3Y14 line is advancing to consideration as a potential release. Data from the past three years' performance of the line will be compiled for a variety review committee at Mississippi State University. The committee will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the line and decide if it merits release as a public variety.

“We've had it in the field trials for three years, and it has done quite well every year. We are also looking very closely and carefully at this line in other types of tests, including fertility trials, disease and insect tests and herbicide screenings,” said Kanter. “If it does becomes a variety, we will have available this other background information on it as well.”

Kanter describes MSO3Y14 as “very similar” to Priscilla in its plant type, agronomic and growth characteristics. “In terms of management, practices that have worked well for Priscilla should likewise work well for this line. It has been in side-by-side tests with Priscilla, and it has usually performed equal to or better than Priscilla. Generally, it averages a little more yield than Priscilla (9 bushels per acre more in 2003) and slightly better milling out turn. It may be a little more consistent in its yield performance in different environments,” he said.

“The uniformity of the plants in the initial increase looked good.

“To release a variety it is preferred to have at least three years of field performance data to take into consideration some of the different growing conditions producers can encounter from year to year. Once a breeding line is released as a variety, it will likely encounter other types of growing conditions and circumstances over the years, so it is desirable for a variety to be as productive as possible under both stressful and optimum field conditions,” said Kanter.

The decision to keep or discard breeding lines in yield tests each season hinges on many features, including milling yield; maturity; straw strength or disposition to lodging; disease and insect resistance; and its responsiveness to nitrogen fertilizer.

“We also work with an economist to evaluate the profitability of new potential varieties,” said Kanter. “Comparing the production economics of different lines provides another perspective at evaluating individual merits. For growers, it's the bottom line that counts at the end of the season. It is our goal that our multidisciplinary approach at the research level should produce a more durable and sustainable technology.”

In 2003, the on-farm variety yield trials were planted at seven locations in the Mississippi Delta from Tunica in the north to Rolling Fork in the south. Six test locations were on cooperator farms and one location was at the DREC.

Planting dates for the different locations ranged from April 3 to April 30. Three of the tests were planted into conventionally-prepared seedbeds and the other four were planted into stale seedbeds. Kanter said advanced and preliminary lines and/or varieties were planted at each location for evaluation.

Each main test consisted of four replications. All plots consisted of six rows drill-seeded about 1 inch deep at a seeding rate of 108 pounds per acre. The 20 percent higher seeding rate was used to compensate for the limited seed treatment applied to the experimental lines planted in the tests and possible harsh seedbed conditions. Cultural practices were decided by and performed by the cooperator and varied by location.

“Overall, the tests were managed under field conditions of high productivity,” said Kanter. The results of the trials are published in the MAFES Information Bulletin. One summary table is prepared for each location followed by overall summary charts at the end. The 2003 variety bulletin is now available from county MSU Extension offices or online at

“We had a very good year this year. Most of our test locations had good plot stands — and that's always the first requirement for a good tests. All the tests were well-managed; where there was disease pressure, it was generally light to moderate. Grain yields were high. The total and whole grain milling yields were good also. Overall for this year, these tests were good and the results are very meaningful.”

In addition to these on-farm tests, which represent the last critical step in identifying potential new releases, more than 3,000 new breeding lines were evaluated in replicated and preliminary yield performance tests at DREC in 2003. Prospects are excellent for other new superior breeding line to emerge in 2004, said Kanter.

Assisting Kanter in collecting and analyzing data from the seven trial locations is Ted Miller, retired Extension rice specialist and now a private consultant. He collects the phenology data on all the plots and assists with the lab work.

Eva Ann Dorris is an ag journalist from Pontotoc, Miss. She can be reached at 662-419-9176 or

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