We have been receiving many questions in recent weeks about medium-grain rice varieties.
At this point, finding seed of any medium-grain variety is probably fairly difficult. Before that seed hits the ground this spring though, there are a few things to consider about the two main varieties out there while you still have time.
Jupiter was the medium-grain variety of choice in 2013. This variety has consistently displayed good yield potential (198 bu/A from 2011-2013). Additional benefits of this cultivar include moderate susceptibility to kernel smut and false smut, but perhaps its greatest benefit is its moderate resistance to bacterial panicle blight (BPB). Lodging is a concern, but with the proper nitrogen rate and stand density it shouldn’t lay down any more than other varieties.
Caffey is a new medium-grain variety first grown on a noticeable amount of acreage in 2013. It has displayed the potential in testing to be a great new variety (198 bu/A from 2011-2013). Under the right conditions, Caffey has at times produced considerably higher grain yield than Jupiter (at 4 of 6 locations in 2013).
However, Caffey has a few other differences compared to Jupiter that need to be considered. Caffey is susceptible to BPB, meaning that those with a BPB concern and a desire to plant a medium-grain variety should continue to hedge their bets on some acres by planting Jupiter. Caffey’s resistance to lodging is only marginally better than Jupiter. At this time, acceptable markets for Caffey are also uncertain. Certain domestic markets have not approved Caffey at this time and may not, at least any time soon. There has been some speculation that southern medium-grains might be used to pick up any slack created by production issues in California, but that’s only speculation at this point.
Right now I would treat Caffey like a specialty-purpose variety – meaning I wouldn’t plant it unless I knew where it was going after harvest. Having said that, one of the biggest draws of planting medium-grain varieties is the higher price received per bushel compared to long-grain varieties – these medium grains have the potential to generate high enough yields to be profitable even without the increased price advantage.
While on the topic of medium-grains, CL271 is a new Clearfield medium-grain variety that will be available in extremely limited quantities this year. We have not yet had the opportunity to test this variety but early reports out of Louisiana indicate that it could become a significant player in the near future. This variety will be evaluated in a number of research trials in 2014 including the Arkansas Rice Performance Trials, Producer Rice Evaluation Program (on-farm testing), DD50 Program, and other agronomic and fertility trials.
Planting the right variety is the first step to harvesting the right yield. Let’s try to start the year off on the right foot by selecting the right cultivar that gives us the best chance for success in 2014.