Southeast Joins other Mid-South Universities in Hybrid Rice Agreement

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 26, 2011ᾰSoutheast Missouri State University recently signed a hybrid rice agreement, entitled “Rice Hybrid Agricultural Development Regional and International Cooperative Endeavor “ (RHADRICE), with the Louisiana State University, University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, and Texas A & M University to cooperate in breeding hybrid rice.

F1 hybrid rice is the result of the pollination between two different parent varieties.  Hybrid rice has more plant vigor which results in higher yields, better disease tolerance and larger producer profits than that of a conventional pure-line variety, according to Dr. Donn Beighley, rice breeder and associate professor in Southeast’s Department of Agriculture.

The Missouri part of the hybrid breeding program will take place at the Missouri Rice Research Farm in Glennonville, Mo. Funding for this program will come from the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council. 

This is the first time hybrid rice will be bred in Missouri.  The typical hybrid breeding process lasts a minimum of four to five years as compared to 10 years to develop a conventional rice variety.  It is estimated that in 20 years, three billion people will be eating hybrid rice. 

Southeast currently uses pure-line rice varieties from other universities but is in the process of developing its own hybrid rice variety.  In 2011, the rice breeding program will evaluate a hybrid rice variety from Louisiana State University.   

Beighley said he and the University have worked closely with other University rice breeders since 2000.

“The collaboration to breed and produce hybrid rice was the next natural step in our cooperative research,” Beighley said. 

He and another representative will sit on the hybrid rice advisory committee to make decisions on how the hybrid rice agreement and program will move forward and focus on bringing in money from the production and sales of hybrid rice to Missouri’s rice producers.

“With Southeast being one of the cooperating institutions in this agreement and the goal being to increase rice grain yields by 20 percent, the University has the opportunity to be recognized as an emerging agriculture institution,” said Dr. Michael Aide, chair of the Department of Agriculture.

For more information on the hybrid rice agreement, contact Southeast’s School of Polytechnic Studies-Malden at (573) 276-2283.