The LSU AgCenter has a long history of rice breeding success. At its recent field day at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Rayne, La., area rice farmers heard the latest performance data on the Clearfield Rice Production System, the Provisia Rice System, and what growers can expect from both systems and their impact on the future U.S. rice production.
One presentation was given by Dr. Adam Famoso, who joined the staff of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in May 2015. Famoso is not only developing breeding strategies for the station, he is also carrying the breeding program into the next generation of breeding technology, including the use of genetic markers.
He has begun incorporating DNA marker-based selection by genotyping the rice varieties of the future through DNA analysis prior to the standard field testing. “We are working to build upon the strong breeding foundation in place at the LSU AgCenter by integrating molecular tools to accelerate the release of the best varietal lines for our growers,” says Famoso.
Famoso provided some insight into what growers are learning about Provisia Rice System — the first herbicide-tolerant system released since the Clearfield Production System was released 15 years ago — during its first year of commercial availability.
“It always takes a few steps in the breeding process to increase the performance of the new herbicide-resistant varieties when the technology is being incorporated from unadapted material, as we work to get them to the point where our adapted varieties are today,” says Famoso.
“We have to look for specific traits in thousands of lines and select for things such as maturity, height, and grain quality to increase a variety’s commercial value to a producer. That’s what had to be done with PVL01.”
Despite being a little lower yielding than the varieties released under the Clearfield designation, PVL01 is exhibiting some excellent qualities like low chalk and a nice long grain.
“Similar to the Clearfield varieties when they were first released, we expected a little yield drag,” adds Famoso. “After 10 years of breeding though, the Clearfield varieties are the highest-yielding on the market today.”
Famoso and the rest of the scientists have been analyzing data from another Provisia line, PVL108. It has improved characteristics over PVL01 like better milling and yield.
“In addition to having very low chalk, PVL108 has shown a 10 percent yield advantage over PVL01 in three years of statewide testing,” says Famoso. “That is pretty significant.”
PVL108 is maturing a week earlier than PVL01 — a trait which Louisiana rice producers prefer, especially now that hurricane season has begun. “The earlier we can get a rice variety to mature, the less risk our growers will have to assume toward the end of the year,” says Famoso.
Although longer-maturing varieties typically yield more, in the balance of all things, farmers in the line of fire from hurricanes know earlier is better.
While PVL108 has some yield and earliness advantages, it is 2 inches taller than PVL01. Shorter plant height is preferred to reduce the risk of lodging. PVL108 also has a shorter grain than PVL01.
“One positive aspect of PVL01 is its long grain, although PVL108 is classified as a long grain variety, its grain length is slightly shorter than PVL01,” explains Famoso.
In the interests of time, efforts are under way to begin the necessary seed increase and purification for PVL108. “We started with a seed increase in Puerto Rico over the winter. We brought back 50 pounds of seed and planted it on 5 acres at 10 pounds an acre here at the research station,” explains Famoso.
“If we decide to move forward with this variety, we should have a good bit of seed available for seed production next year, and in producers’ fields for the 2020 growing season.”
Famoso knows the disease resistance in PVL108 is not as active as it is in CL153, but there are some materials currently in early-stage testing that are showing not only an improvement in yield, but also a much-improved resistance to blast.
“It’s our intention to release a new variety every two to three years that will chip away at some of the limitations we are seeing in these current Provisia varieties,” adds Famoso. “I’d like to see them perform up to the levels of the Clearfield varieties as quickly as possible.”