Rice Breeding Program Launches New Aromatic ARoma 22 as Demand Rises



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ARoma 22, the third and final aromatic rice developed by the Arkansas Rice Breeding Program, offers increased flavor and color consistency over its predecessor, and equates to several qualities sought after by consumers of imported Asian aromatic rice, according to sensory tests.

A new aromatic jasmine-like rice called ARoma 22 has been released by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station amid growing demand for aromatic rice in the United States.

ARoma 22 offers increased flavor and color consistency over its predecessor and equates to several qualities sought after by consumers of imported Asian aromatic rice, according to sensory testing.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, a surge in rice imports in recent years from Asia has been driven by jasmine-type rice from Thailand.

“Given stiff competition from Asian and South American suppliers and stagnant export prospects for U.S. long-grain rice, aromatic rice represents an opportunity for U.S. farmers to increase production and reduce dependence with respect to aromatic rice imports,” said Alvaro Durand-Morat, assistant professor of agricultural economics and agro-industry for the Experimental Station, the research arm of the U.S. Division of Agriculture. of A System.

The experimental station’s rice breeding program added the aroma breeding program in 2010 to fill a growing niche market. The Agriculture Division’s foundation seed program has seen orders for aromatic rice double in recent years. In 2020, the program sold 1,249 bags of seeds. For the 2023 growing season, growers pre-ordered 2,565 bags. One bag contains 50 pounds of rice seeds.

ARoma 22 was developed by Professor Emeritus Karen Moldenhauer and Debra Ahrent Wisdom of the Arkansas Rice Breeding Program based at the Division’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.

“The goal is to meet consumer and producer demands to develop high quality, high yield aromatic rice lines,” Wisdom said. “Farmers who have produced aromatic rice would like to have more seeds to grow as they find more markets available.”

Wisdom has been an assistant breeder specializing in aromatic jasmine rice since 2010. She is also account manager for the Foundation Seed Program, which sells rice and soybean seeds developed and released by the Agriculture Division.

Wisdom noted that consumers who have tried ARoma 22 are “very satisfied with the flavor and quality of the rice.”

Sensory testing conducted in February at the Experiment Station’s Sensory Science Center revealed that ARoma 22 compares favorably to other jasmine-like varieties.

After consultation with the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, the variety was placed on restricted public release, where purchasers of foundation seed sign a non-exclusive, royalty-free license agreement before purchasing seed.

ARoma 22 averaged 167 bushels per acre with high milling yields in five Arkansas rice variety advancement trials. ARoma 22 achieves 50 percent heading at 88 days with “excellent” straw strength, according to data collected from the Arkansas Regional Uniform Rice Nursery and reported in 2020 research trials. It is moderately susceptible to blast, sheath blight, bacterial panicle blight and susceptible to false smut.

Arkansas continues to be ranked first in the nation for rice production. More than 1.4 million acres are harvested each year in more than 40 counties, according to the 2021 Arkansas Agricultural Profile (https://bit.ly/2021ArkAgProfile). The 2020 production and commodity value for Arkansas rice was nearly $1.3 billion.

A total of 16 rice varieties have been developed by the rice breeding team and distributed to rice farmers in Arkansas over the past 10 years. Three of them were flavor lines to cater to a growing niche market, Wisdom said.

To learn more about Agriculture Division research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: aaes.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.