According to the recent information, it has been indicated that Agronomists in New South Wales are working to come up with new rice varieties to be grown in the Mackay region and further afield in north Queensland. It has been revealed by Mr Ben Ovenden, from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, who is one of just two scientists in Australia who call themselves as ‘rice breeders’, informed to the sugar cane growers in Mackay about progress on developing rice varieties for the region.
In this matter, it was stated that they were really excited about the potential for new rice varieties in this region and with the tropical climate as it is really suited to a whole range of different varieties .It was informed that they have started doing selections here, because basically if you breed for something in the environment that it is going to be grown in, hopefully you are going to get a good performance too. Mr Ovenden was speaking at an information session near Mackay, where sugar cane growers were updated on the potential of rice in their region.
Further, it was told that most of Mr Ovenden’s work in the past has been focused on rice breeding for the Riverina region in NSW, but for the past decade he and his department have been working on a small scale with cane grower Mr Andrew Barfield to come up with varieties that suited to Mackay’s climate and conditions. The work resulted in the selection of doongara as the variety for the Mackay region’s first commercial rice crop in this year. While ,doongara is seen as a highly reliable option, as Mr Ovenden told that he and his team were now working on other, more niche varieties.
In addition, it was also revealed that the Thai jasmine fragrant varieties would be an ideal niche for producers in this area, and have been focused a lot on our work on starting to breed with high value varieties .There is a variety called topaz, which was released in southern New South Wales, that fills that market niche .It is a fragrant long grain, but it is not expected to be as agronomically suited up here as it is down in the Riverine. Further, however, we would like to breed something with high yield potential as well as really good quality which are targeted for this growing region .Mr Ovenden also revealed that it took about 10 years of crossbreeding and trials to come up with a new rice variety for commercial use.