Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2009
Publication Date: 7/9/2009
Citation: Mcclung, A.M. 2009. Update on organic rice research. Texas Rice, Highlighting Research in 2009. pp. XIV-XV.
Technical Abstract: Organic products command a premium in the marketplace and bring greater farmgate value to growers and processors. Although total rice acreage has decreased in Texas over the last ten years, there has been an increase in rice acreage produced under organic management. USDA ARS has conducted research for several years at the Beaumont station to evaluate various cultural management factors on rice yield and grain quality. Using land that had been fallow for two years (like that which would be transitioning into organic production), we found that, on average, organically produced rice yielded about 80% of that produced under conventional management. In fact, yield of organically produced rice was comparable to yield under conventional management using only 50% of the recommended nitrogen fertilizer. Among 20 cultivars that were evaluated, about half performed in the same manner under organic and conventional management (i.e. if they had high yield under conventional management, the yielded well under the organic system too). Milling quality was reduced under organic production and was associated with higher grain chalk which results in the grain being more friable during the milling process. However, we found that there was no significant impact on cooking quality or flavor nor was there a difference in the amount of aroma detected in the one scented rice cultivar evaluated. In fact there was a slight improvement in cooked rice texture (softer) and appearance (more white) when grown under organic conditions. This indicates that there was no negative effect due to organic production on grain quality that would impact processors or consumers. In 2008, we initiated a study on certified organic land using the variety Presidio to determine the yield response to three organic fertilizers (AgriRecycle (AG), Nature Safe (NS), and Rhizogen (RH)) using four different rates (0, 50%, 100%, 150% of recommended). Although hurricane Ike took the final harvest, we were able to determine early season biomass production (including rice and weeds) and plant height (rice only). We found that increasing the rate of the fertilizer amendments resulted in greater plant biomass and taller plant height for Nature Safe and Rhizogen, whereas the response was less pronounced with AgriRecycle. In addition, at the two highest rates of Nature Safe, the rice was 2 to 4 inches taller than the two highest rates of the other two fertilizer products. This suggests that some organic fertilizers may enhance rice plant growth relative to weeds, allowing the crop to better compete under weed pressure.