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RREC Newsletter

The Rice Research and Extension Center’s overall goal is, and has been since its inception, to develop components of sustainable rice production systems for Arkansas farmers.  Hence, the research conducted at the RREC is primarily field-oriented, problem-solving, and applied.  Research and extension initiatives are determined by the needs of the Arkansas agricultural industry. The scientists within each discipline work as a team to conduct research that will develop technology to meet those needs.  Funding for RREC research and extension programs is derived from state and federal funds, commodity board check-off funds, and private industry donations.  The Rice Research and Extension Center also serves as one of two County Extension Offices serving Arkansas County.  A county agricultural agent is part of the RREC faculty and offers agricultural programs to the citizens of Arkansas County.

Rice Breeding and Variety Testing – Our rice breeders develop varieties that combine improved grain and milling yields with other important traits such as early maturity, disease and lodging resistance, and superior grain quality.


Dr. Karen Moldenhauer (Professor, Endowed Chair for Rice Breeding) is engaged in developing Southern long grain rice varieties. 

 

 

Dr. Xueyan ShaDr. Xueyan Sha (Associate Professor) was hired to provide leadership for development of medium grain rice varieties, semi-dwarf long grain varieties, and to provide some input into the development of hybrids Breeding lines are selected to meet these objectives using the most efficient methods available, which may include use molecular markers, winter nurseries, and conventional methodologies. 
Dr. Greg BergerDr. Greg Berger (Assistant Professor) and Dr. Chris Deren (Professor) are engaged in the development of rice hybrids that are adapted to the Mid-South.
Ms. Debbie Ahrent (Program Associate, Associate Breeder) oversees the development of aromatic varieties that meet specialty markets. 
Dr. Yeshi Wamishe

Plant Pathology – Dr. Yeshi Wamishe (Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology) is responsible for a comprehensive extension and applied research program that addresses the disease management issues facing Arkansas rice growers.  This faculty member works closely with breeders and agronomists in deploying various disease strategies and options.  Major effort is focused with whole plant evaluations under natural and inoculated conditions in the field or greenhouse.

Dr. Raghu SathyamurthyRice Entomology  Dr. Raghu Sathyamurthy (Associate Professor of Entomology) investigates all aspects of the Biology, Ecology, and Management of Rice Insect Pests including biological, cultural, and chemical control methods that can be integrated into current production practices to reduce economic losses in rice.
Dr. Paul Counce

Rice Physiology – Dr. Paul Counce (Professor of Rice Physiology) provides fundamental understanding of the physiological yield- and quality-limiting factors of the rice plant and crop.  Emphasis is currently focused developing a better understanding of the relationships between the climate and rice grain quality parameters.  The goal of this work is to identify genes responsible for directing the enzymes that are involved in kernel development.


Rice Growth Staging System and How to Growth Stage a Rice Plant

Dr. Chris HenryHydrologist – Dr. Chris Henry (Assistant Professor of Ag Engineering) is responsible for conducting medium- and long-term research on the surface and groundwater resources of Arkansas as it relates to irrigation of all row crops.  Since water is such an important natural resource for Arkansas rice farmers, a program that investigates technologies for conserving water in rice production is critical to the Arkansas rice farmers. 
Brad WatkinsAgricultural Economics – Dr. Brad Watkins (Assistant Professor or Ag Economics) is engaged in evaluating the impacts of new and existing technologies and management practices and the economic impact of dynamic government policies on the profitability and sustainability of rice production in Arkansas. The objective is to assist producers and policy makers in assessing the economics of agronomic research trials and farm policy by providing enterprise budget analysis and whole farm economic analysis of important rice management practices and U.S. rice farm programs.
Dr. Samy Sadaka Bio-Engineering – Dr. Samy Sadaka (Assistant Professor of Ag Engineering) is engaged in the development of new technology for conversion of biomass to commercial energy sources, particularly ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas.  Dr. Sadaka has also began working to improve grain storage and drying processes and technology.
Dr. Merle AndersRice Agronomic Systems – Dr. Merle Anders (Assistant Professor of Agronomy) is engaged in research to assess the medium and long-term impact of various management components in rice cropping systems including tillage, rotation, irrigation, crop and cultivar.  Major emphasis is placed on management approaches that assist farmers maintain natural resources while providing maximum profits.
Dr. Jarrod Hardke Extension Agronomy – Dr. Jarrod Hardke (Assistant Professor of Agronomy, Extension Rice Agronomist) provides educational training and support to County Extension Agents and producers that enhances sustainable rice production, improves profitability and competitiveness of rice producers, and improves the water, air and soil environmental quality. Major programs include the Rice DD50 Program, the RICESEED program, and the Rice Research Verification Program.  In-season information such as pest alerts, management decisions, and production recommendations are reported periodically on the Arkansas Row Crops Blog.
Mr. Grant BeckwithCounty Extension Service Sub-office – Mr. Grant Beckwith (County Extension Agent – Agriculture) serves the northern half of Arkansas County by providing educational programs in agriculture, community development, and 4-H.  The RREC serves as a sub-office for the Arkansas County Cooperative Extension Service with one County Extension Agent on location.

Adjunct Faculty (USDA-ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center)

Georgia C. Eizenga -- Rice Genetics and Cytogenetics
David R. Gealy -- Plant Physiologist/Weed Scientist
Yulin Jia -- Molecular Plant Pathology
Wengui Yan -- Rice Genetics
Rolfe Bryant, Cereal Chemistry


Foundation Seed – The production of Foundation Seed is major function of RREC as it is the culmination of the breeding program. Each year, several hundred acres of intensively managed rice, soybean and wheat is produced for seed and processed at the Center's seed drying, cleaning and bagging facility. This seed is of the highest quality, is monitored by the Arkansas State Plant Board, and is the basis for the success of Arkansas's seed industry. The Foundation Seed Program manages approximately 10-12 rice varieties, 4-5 soybean varieties, and 2-3 wheat varieties each year.


Summary
The programs that originate at RREC have resulted in the development of 26 improved rice varieties coupled with crop management recommendations that are variety specific, are sustainable, and ensure the overall success of the variety when it is produced by Arkansas rice farmers.  The technology is transferred in a fast, efficient manner to Arkansas rice farmers through conventional field days, grower meetings, fact sheets and newsletters.  New communication technology has been incorporated so that information can be obtained through the internet, through social media (facebook and twitter), and e-mail.  The technologies developed in these programs have helped Arkansas rice farmers progressively increase production and maintain their competitive edge in the global rice market.

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University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
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