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By Abbi RossU of A System Division of Agriculture
Download MS Word version
Download PHOTO of Dr. Paul Counce: https://flic.kr/p/2hmaHAh
Download PHOTOS of rice growth chambers: https://flic.kr/p/28vZAjP https://flic.kr/p/28vZAhp
STUTTGART, Ark. — Arkansas scientists are working to develop rice varieties that are
tolerant of Arkansas’ frequent high nighttime air temperatures, a condition that can
significantly reduce yields and post-harvest quality.
Paul Counce, a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture professor and
rice physiologist, is leading the high nighttime air temperature rice research in
the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.
“We began to do work about twenty years ago to pin these issues down,” Counce said.
“We started a series of experiments at the Rice Research and Extension Center and
in Fayetteville with Dr. Terry Siebenmorgen.”
The team's current objective is to identify genes associated with resistance to high
night temperatures, Counce said.
Prolonged high night air temperatures during critical physiological stages can reduce
the quality and yield of rice, Counce said. Years with unusually warm seasons, like
2010 and 2016, can result in almost catastrophic losses due to reduced pollination
and fertilization of rice flowers. At later stages of development, high night temperatures
decrease the milling quality of rice.
“It’s not just that there are high night temperatures that cause quality degradation,
it is that they occur when the rice is at a certain physiological stage,” said Terry
Siebenmorgen, distinguished professor of food science for the Division of Agriculture.
“That is when those temps are so impactful, they alter the way the starch is put together
in the kernel.”
Siebenmorgen said the result is that rice kernels that are normally translucent become
chalky and prone to breakage during milling. The kernels that remain intact do not
cook properly for meals or when making cereals and other food products.
Markets are determined by rice quality to a large extent, and when quality decreases
it makes marketing difficult, Counce said. In some years, farmers’ profits decline
from both lower yields and price markdowns resulting from poor milling quality.
After working for years to determine the physiological and chemical bases of the problem,
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station scientists are now evaluating cultivars for
their nighttime heat susceptibility, Siebenmorgen said.
Growth chambers that can control environmental conditions are used to simulate high
nighttime air temperatures to test rice breeding lines and varieties for their tolerance
or susceptibility, Counce said. The growth chambers also allow researchers to control
the light and carbon dioxide levels, which also play roles in rice plant and seed
development. The growth chambers were funded by the Arkansas Rice Checkoff program.
“What we are trying to do is improve our understanding of the varieties and the yield
and quality responses of the rice we have to the high temperatures,” Counce said.
This stage of the investigation focuses on identifying breeding lines with genetic
tolerance of high nighttime air temperatures, Counce said. “Division rice breeders
can then cross those tolerant lines with high-yielding and disease resistant lines
to develop improved varieties,” he said.
“This is an excellent step forward in our efforts to find, develop and breed rice
that will tolerate high nighttime air temperatures,” said Bob Scott, Rice Research
and Extension Center director.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
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.
Media Contact: Fred MillerU of A System Division of AgricultureArkansas Agricultural Experiment Station(479) email@example.com