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Arkansas Foundation Seed Program helps feed the world
March 30, 2018
PHOTO available for download: https://flic.kr/p/VMwSnW
STUTTGART — Arkansas continues to lay claim as the nation’s rice production leader,
but agricultural researchers with the University of Arkansas System Division of are
always working to improve the crop.
Division of Agriculture researchers recently developed a new variety of aromatic rice.
It’s just one example of Arkansas striving to improve agriculture here, and in doing
so, help feed the world.
The Arkansas Foundation Seed Program, based at the division’s Rice Research and Extension
Center near Stuttgart, plays a key role in facilitating rice varietal development,
making the enterprise more efficient and attractive to farmers.
“Our research and extension scientists train a lot of people to improve rice production
practices not only here but around the world,” said program director Glenn Bathke.
“We view ourselves as a service organization. We provide seed at a low cost to seed
dealers and make seed of new varieties available to be sure there is profit left for
the farmers,” Bathke said.
Foundation seed is the purest seed stock produced from breeder seed under the Division
of Agriculture’s control. Foundation seed is purchased by seed growers and used to
produce certified seed that is sold for crop production.
The Foundation Seed facility, which opened in 2016, continues cooperative efforts
between the state Rice Research and Promotion Board and the Division of Agriculture.
These efforts have led to the development of new technologies related to fertility,
pest control, irrigation, and weed control, in addition to the development of new
Just last fall, a new long-grain aromatic rice variety called Aroma 17 was made available
to the state’s rice growers after development at the Rice Research and Extension Center.
“It has much more of an aroma to it than conventional long grain or medium grain rice,”
Bathke explained. “A lot of restaurants offer a selection of rice for people who like
different tastes in rice. It has a jasmine aroma, similar to some Thai rice.”
Bathke said that once it’s clear that a new variety of rice is worth developing, he
and his staff work to produce a high volume of the seed and make it available to seed
growers and dealers.
“We’re continuing to learn how to operate the plant more effectively,” Bathke said.
“We’re putting in all the fine tuning.”
New breeds of medium- and long-grain rice are also continually in development, Bathke
“The growers really love them,” he said. “Medium grain varieties must go through commercial
approval by the cereal companies, which are testing each variety before large-scale
sales can go forward.”
The Foundation Seed Program’s work has played a significant role in feeding the planet.
Arkansas grows about half the rice grown in the U.S. and half of what the state produces
is exported to other countries, Bathke said.
The primary goal of the program is to make seed of newly released and proven varieties
available to all Arkansas growers as quickly as possible. The Division of Agriculture
strives to place foundation-grade seed with seed growers who are committed to maximum
production and maintaining the seed within the Seed Certification Program standards.
“Typically, the new varieties are better that the old ones in a number of ways, such
as yield,” Bathke said. “Yield is important because that’s what the farmers get paid
on. Agronomic features and cooking qualities are important considerations as well.”
The new Foundation Seed facility in Stuttgart replaced an older facility that dated
back to the 1950’s.
The foundation seed developed by the Division of Agriculture is processed and managed
in the state-of-the-art facility. The seed is inspected throughout the process, from
the field to the point of sale, to ensure high quality and purity, Bathke said.
The facility, which was built with support from the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion
Board, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, and the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board,
can process as much as 250 bushels of seed an hour, including pre-cleaning, cleaning,
sizing and bagging. More than 25 varieties of seed can be handled each year.
To learn more about foundation seed varieties available through the Division of Agriculture,
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Seth BlomelyU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org