ARLINGTON, VA -- The latest episode
of The Rice Stuff
podcast gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the Clearfield and Provisia technologies revolutionized U.S. rice from two people who helped develop them: Dr. Eric Webster, director of the University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, and Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Foundation and USA Rice’s Leadership Class Program.
The two rice production systems, used in rotation, both target a longtime enemy of U.S. rice farmers: red rice, also known as weedy rice.
“The unique thing about red rice is that it’s the same genus and species as conventional rice,” said Webster, who was pleased to have an opportunity to talk about rice after leaving the LSU AgCenter in 2021 for Wyoming. “There are very few crops where that’s the case, so right there you’ve got a problem trying to remove something that’s almost identical to what you’re trying to cultivate. It’s a very aggressive plant, so it competes with the rice for water, space, light, and nutrients. It can also lie dormant for a very, very long time. In a way, it’s the perfect weed.”
“You can see how it would seem basically impossible to develop a conventional herbicide that would control red rice without hurting your conventional rice,” said Linscombe. “There’s been a lot of work throughout the years to create a rice line resistant to herbicide that works on red rice.”
Both high-yielding, high-quality, and popular varieties of rice, Clearfield and Provisia are genetically resistant to two classes of herbicides that target red rice, allowing growers to fight the weed efficiently and effectively without damaging their crop.
“It really revolutionized how we treated red rice and gave farmers a tool they had never had before,” said Webster. “It’s also had a positive environmental impact, as farmers were able to reduce the amount of herbicides used per acre.”
“These innovations are a perfect example of why the university agricultural research system is so important to the rice industry, and U.S. agriculture as a whole, which we’ve talked about on the show before,” said podcast co-host Michael Klein. “Not only do these production systems make economic sense for farmers, but they’re one of the many ways U.S. rice is leading the world in sustainability, and the research programs are a huge part of that.”
New episodes of The Rice Stuff
are published on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.