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Chapter 3: Rice Varieties

K. A. K. Moldenhauer and J. H. Gibbons, Department of Agronomy, Rice Research and Extension Center, University of Arkansas, Stuttgart, Arkansas; K. S. McKenzie, California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, Biggs, California

RICE: Chemistry and Technology, Third Edition
Pages 49-75
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/1891127349.003
ISBN: 978-1-891127-34-9


Rice in the United States is grown in two main production areas: the southern region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and southern Missouri) and California. Rice varieties for these regions have been developed primarily by cooperative public rice-breeding programs. The overall goal of these breeding programs has been to ensure “a maximum and stable production of the types of rice required by producers and consumers” (Adair et al, 1966). Approximately 140 public rice varieties have been released to U.S. rice producers since 1911. This has been achieved through the characterization of specific cooking and processing characteristics for U.S. market classes and through the development of varieties with improved agronomic and quality characteristics to satisfy those requirements.

Agronomic improvements have included reduced height, improved lodging resistance, increased yield potential, early maturity, and selected stress tolerances (disease, cool temperatures, and seedling vigor) and have led to significant improvement in productivity. Kernel size, shape, and appearance were the initial quality-selection criteria in the breeding programs. The selection for rice quality has evolved into an increasingly complex and challenging process. Rice-breeding programs have expanded to include the introduction of new germ plasm, the utilization of new technology and instrumentation, and consideration of consumer preferences for characteristics ranging from processing to ethnic choice.