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New Rice Varieties Keep the California Industry Competitive

The Issue

Improved rice varieties that meet the changing needs of diverse domestic and world markets are central to keeping the California rice industry economically healthy and rice farmers in business. High quality and reliable supply are keys to sustaining the industry.

What Has ANR Done?

Every year, UCCE conducts seven or eight trials in growers' fields of more than 100 candidate rice varieties. The candidates are compared to standard varieties for adaptation to the local growing conditions, particularly where temperatures differ. Candidates are grown about three years in offstation trials before release. Few make it past the first year but for those that succeed, the trials provide real onfarm information that supports release and tells growers what to expect from them. This program, in place since 1969, is a cooperative project by the California Rice Experiment Station, the USDA rice breeder at UC Davis and UCCE. The rice breeder provides new germplasm from which useful traits can be put into acceptable varieties. Crossing, selection and onstation testing take place at the Rice Experiment Station.

The Payoff

New Releases Improve Quality, Yield and Product Diversity

Varieties from this public program are grown on 96% of California's half million rice acres. Collectively, they have helped push average yields to 20% above national average and captured a worldwide reputation for the highest quality. In addition to steady improvement in the primary medium-grain varieties, recent releases give growers varieties suitable for niche markets such as aromatic rice, high quality Japanese short grain rice, basmati rice and others. In the last five years the program has released ten new varieties with an eleventh on tap for 2003.

Clientele Testimonial

"While California rice growers fund the rice research program for varietal development, it is extremely helpful for UCCE's field variety trials to determine the commercial viability of new selected varieties. This is especially important with new varieties being developed at our Rice Experiment Station for cooler weather regions of Northern California. It is also important because the California rice industry needs to continue to be on the cutting edge of development of specific rice varieties for target markets like Japan and certain US customers who use rice in manufacturing of consumer products such as beverages." -- William V. Huffman, VP, Farmers' Rice Cooperative, West Sacramento.


Supporting Unit: Sutter-Yuba Counties

Jack Williams
Farm Advisor & CD, Sutter/Yuba Counties