Brazil produces its first variety of Japanese rice


In order to shore up domestic consumption of rice, Brazil’s farmers and industry are betting on new cultivars which are more resistant and have more flavor.
In fact, farmers in the south of Brazil have come up with a variety, BRS 358, the first to have been developed in Brazil especially for the Japanese cuisine.
The new plant is a result of over ten years of work of researchers from Embrapa Clima Temperado (located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul), Embrapa Arroz e Feijão (Rice and Kidney Beans unit located in the state of Goiás) and other research centers linked to Embrapa’s rice improvement program.
So far, the Brazilian companies were forced to spend more as they were importing the grain directly from Japan or were investing on low productivity varieties to guarantee the rice reaches Brazilian tables. The cultivars brought from the West and produced in the country have not adapted well to the local environment.
“The advantage that BRS 358 offers is that the plant has the same standard quality grain as that of the traditional Japanese crop, but is an agronomic modern plant,” informs one of the researchers involved with the new cultivar, Ariano Magalhães.
He referred to the short height of the plant, which makes it more resistant to bedding. As a result, the leaves stay erect, thus resulting in more photosynthetic capacity, adding to its productive potential.
Through a line introduced in Egypt in 1999 by Embrapa Arroz e Feijão, the cultivar was selected between 2002 and 2004 after tests conducted in different Brazilian states, including Rio Grande do Sul. As a result, it led to average yields of 8,600 kilograms per hectares, high profiling, resistance to the brown spot pathogen of rice, besides having an early cycle (115 days in Rio Grande do Sul).
Embrapa is already working to launch the Japanese rice with the Clearfield technology, which allows grain production on a larger scale. The system, CL, as it is known, is a method of chemical application that allows use of a herbicide that eliminates the “red rice,” one of the major plagues in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, without diminishing the grain quality.
Conventional cultivars without the technology are sensitive to potent herbicides and, therefore, require extra care that limits the planted area.
The conventional cultivar needs to be planted in clean areas – terrains that did not receive other types of rice varieties for at least six years. Without chemical control, the alternative is to use soybean rotation areas. “One of our goals is to create BRS 358 CL,” concluded Magalhães.


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