Rice Researchers Share Common GoalsBy
Rice grown at home and abroad is becoming more popular with U.S. consumers.
And U.S. farmers, who now plant rice on 3 million acres annually, could expand
their acreage when economic demands increase further.
In keeping with rice becoming more at home in the United States,
Agricultural Research Service scientists
at the National Rice
Germplasm Evaluation and Enhancement Center, Stuttgart, Ark., plan to step
up their research in a new 46,000-square-foot facility. ARS is the principal
scientific agency of the U.S. Department of
On Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, just as preparation of the new facility is
completed, the scientists will host the International Symposium on Rice
Germplasm Evaluation and Enhancement. The object: share knowledge on improving
rice breeding resources for developing new varieties of high-yielding,
high-quality grain in various geographic settings, some of which may be beset by
plant diseases and insects.
More than 90 percent of U.S. rice acreage is now planted with varieties
developed by state and federal breeders. ARS geneticists play a vital role in
filling the pipeline of ever- improved germplasm from which varieties can be
formed, according to J. Neil Rutger, director of the Stuttgart center. New rice
germplasm is being enhanced at the center via biotechnology as well as
In the U.S., rice production recently has remained steady while per capita
annual consumption of the milled product has risen to more than 20 pounds--about
double that of the mid-1980s. About 11 percent of rice consumed in the U.S. is
imported. Most imported rice is flavorful, high-quality aromatic rice preferred
by many immigrants from Asian countries. High-quality rice, rich in amylose
starch, is the norm in certain areas of the U.S. well-suited for rice
production. This rice grows best in a temperate climate where insect and
disease epidemics are normally least severe.
Arkansas is the leading rice-producing state, followed by California,
Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri.
Scientific contact: J. Neil Rutger, USDA-ARS, National Rice
Germplasm Evaluation and Enhancement Center, Stuttgart, Ark., phone (870)
673-2661, fax (870) 673-7581, email firstname.lastname@example.org.