2017 Tortilla Flats Rice Trial

Nick Hartley

Nick Hartley reports on the latest rice results from a long term rice improvement project at Tortilla Flats. For a number of years there has been interest to see how fragrant rice lines (Jasmine and Basmati) perform in the NT. This commodity is highly prized by rice consumers globally, potentially providing a niche market. Current DPIR rice research is driven by the high prices of international rice and the previous years of drought across south eastern Australia.

10 cultivars of fragrant rice were planted in May 2017 as part of a long term project to identify rice germplasm suitable for production in the Top End of the Northern Territory. The climate conditions in the 2017 dry season were favourable for rice, with few cooler days during the optimum plant growth stages of flowering and panicle initiation. This resulted in better grain yields due to less panicle sterility.

Sub plots were hand harvested and measurements were taken from each cultivar. Samples were threshed and then slowly dried down to preserve grain quality

Rice field at Adelaide River (left), 2017 Rice plots at Tortilla Flats (middle), machine harvesting (right).

After subsampling by hand, the remaining rice was machine harvested according to cultivar maturity to provide machine harvest yields and hand harvest yield data.

The table below compares the machine harvest and hand harvest yields for the cultivars trialled in 2017. The yields were highly variable between cultivars, the top performers far outstripping the bottom of the table, Doongara providing 6 times the yield of YUA16 when machine harvested.

Table 1: Grain yield for the 10 rice varieties grown at Tortilla, 2017 dry season.

Cultivars tested Machine harvest Grain Yield T/Ha Hand harvest Grain sub plots yield T/Ha Best varietal Yield Performers.
10. DOONGARA 10.30 12.30 1
9. KYEEMA 10.0 10,70 2
8. VEIT - 1 9.20 11.30 3
3. SHERPA 8.35 10.20 4
1. LEMONT 8.10 7.40 5
6. SEN PIDAO 7.80 8.50 6
2. YRF214 7.50 9.05 7
4. YRF216 6.80 9.20 8
5. AMAROO 5.70 6.00 9
7. YUA16 - YO57 3.0 2.40 10

The second part of the equation in terms of suitability for production is the quality of the grain. Sub samples from each cultivar have been cleaned, processed and sent away for grain quality assessment.

Last updated: 23 July 2018