New Greenhouse at Southeast’s Malden Campus to Enhance Rice Breeding Efforts

rice2MALDEN, Missouri, April 16, 2015 – Architectural plans are being drawn for a new Rice Research Greenhouse at Southeast Missouri State University-Malden that is expected to broaden area rice breeding efforts spearheaded by the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council with support from Southeast’s Department of Agriculture.

The 1,440-square-foot facility will help further new high yielding rice varieties. Numerous classes will use the facility, including Plant Science, Soil Fertility and Weed Science.

The $115,000 greenhouse is being funded in part with a $100,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) targeted at supporting rice breeding research and developing new rice breeding techniques.

EVT-RiceFieldDayUSDA Rural Development officials say they are pleased about the significant benefits the project can provide to the residents and communities of southeast Missouri.

“Through new rice breeding techniques, producers may experience improved quality and larger yields during harvest,” said Janie Dunning, rural development state director. “These rice production advancements could lead to an improved quality of life through increased agricultural revenue.”

Dr. Mike Aide, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture, said the award to construct a greenhouse research and laboratory space for producing public domain rice varies in southeast Missouri is a tremendous investment that will enhance regional and global cooperation among rice breeders in Missouri and other states.

Malden Campus“Southeast Missouri State University and the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council are honored to develop the rice breeding greenhouse to promote the creation of new high yielding rice varieties to improve farm profitability across our nation,” Aide said.

Once architectural designs are completed, the greenhouse project will be open for bids and a contractor will be hired to build the facility. Existing space will be renovated within the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center and added on to the rear of the building.

Dr. Donn Beighley, rice research fellow and rice breeder at Southeast, said it is important to build the greenhouse at the Malden regional campus because of  its proximity to the Missouri Rice Research Farm, Southeast’s rice laboratory, and to Southeast’s regional campus in Kennett. Student enrollment is growing, he said, and Southeast believes the greenhouse will enhance those students’ knowledge and skills about plant breeding.

“The students from the surrounding extended learning centers in Malden and Kennett will benefit by having hands-on experience with the plants they see grown in the surrounding fields and horticultural plants that they may not be exposed to otherwise as well as see how a plant breeding program develops,” Beighley said.

The greenhouse has two purposes. It will be used to enhance rice breeding efforts by allowing the rice breeder to grow and house rice varieties used in the breeding program each year and then to grow out during the winter months the offspring of the varieties bred.

Breeding brings together a type of rice with certain genetics, such as durability or a quick rate of growth, with another variety of rice with desirable characteristics for propagation to create a new and, hopefully improved, variety of rice.

Beighley says the greenhouse will be used to grow and house specific rice varieties used to advance the breeding program. He added it may even be used for the actual breeding procedures. Some of these varieties will be from plants grown in the field and others will be started from seed in the greenhouse.

The greenhouse also will be used to grow other species of plants that can be used to enhance students’ knowledge in teaching labs for some agriculture courses.

“Having space for growing plants for student projects associated with undergraduate research or class projects is a necessary instructional piece,” Aide said.

Dr. Nick Thiele, director of Southeast Missouri State University-Malden, said, “We are very excited about this project and the versatility it will bring to Dr. Beighley’s research as well as the expanded learning opportunities for our students.”