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New Rice Is Hot Item on Seed Companies’ 1997 Menu

By Jan Suszkiw
March 13, 1997

1997 is turning into a very good year for Jefferson, the new long-grain rice released to industry just last year by scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at Beaumont, Texas.

The Texas Rice Improvement Association reported earlier this month that it had sold 201,500 pounds of Jefferson seed worth about $161,200 to commercial seed companies that turned in orders for the cultivar. The companies will propagate the seed further for sale to farmers in Texas, Arkansas and other southern rice-growing states.

High demand for Jefferson stems from its durable resistance to two serious fungal diseases, sheath blight and blast. Both diseases are prevalent in rice throughout the South as well as around the world.

Severe outbreaks can cause losses of up to 50 percent. But a potent package of resistance genes protects Jefferson plants from Pyricularia grisea fungi that cause blast and Rhizoctonia solani, the culprits behind sheath blight.

ARS scientists produced Jefferson by crossing Rosemont, a conventional long-grain cultivar, with B 82-761, a disease-resistant germplasm line. Jefferson generally matures in about 125 days and offers yield and milling quality comparable to longer season varieties such as Cypress and Gulfmont. Because Jefferson matures 1 to 2 weeks earlier than other popular varieties, growers can harvest the second (ratoon) crop sooner--a boon in Gulf Coast states during the hurricane season.

Jefferson’s cooking quality is typical of U.S. long grains, making it suitable for both domestic and export markets.

Scientific contact: Anna M. McClung or Anthony Marchetti, USDA-ARS Rice Research Unit, Beaumont, Texas, phone (409) 752-5221; e-mail or