December 10, 2013
Embrapa Announces Rice Variety Developed for Northern Brazil
Embrapa scientists recently announced the release of a new variety of rice developed specifically for production in the northern Brazilian state of Maranhao. The new variety, BRSMA 357, was developed for irrigated rice production in the lowland areas of the state. Many of the current rice varieties produced in the state were actually brought in from southern Brazil and they were poorly adapted to the growing conditions in the state.
The development of BRSMA 357 is the culmination of a decade of research utilizing traditional long maturity rice varieties grown in the state for more than 40 years. The new variety reaches maturity in 140 days which covers the entire rainy season in the state. The transplanted varieties from southern Brazil have a life cycle of 90 to 120 days, which didn't fully utilize the entire growing season.
Another advantage of the new variety is its short stature which reduces lodging of the plants. The current varieties grown in the state are tall and tend to lodge before harvest resulting in poorer quality grain and lower yields. BRSMA 357 is also believed to be well suited for small family farmers in the state due to its high yield potential and ease of management.
The state government of Maranhao has been working with Embrapa for over a decade to improve rice production in the state. The announcement of the new variety was part of the festivities celebrating 40 years of research by Embrapa scientists in Brazil.
Last week also saw an announcement from scientists from the International Rice Institute in the Philippines that they have discovered a gene in long grain rice that could result in 13-36% higher yields. The gene named SPIKE is believed to be a major gene in determining rice yields. The announcement is the culmination of research started in 1989 looking for this "super" gene.