A new rice variety that brings 450-kilograms-per-mu (0.07 hectares) yields in dry soil was announced recently, marking a breakthrough in Chinese rice breeding.
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The rice experimentation was done in north China’s Hebei province and was the work of China’s “father of hybrid rice”, Yuan Longping. Some successful trials with other varieties, including a super hybrid rice, “giant” rice, and seawater rice, have gotten a lot of attention around the world before.
Rice normally needs a lot of water to grow well, so the successful dry soil trials mean that it is possible to grow rice in dry northern areas of China, which could provide a new way for farmers to shake off poverty and increase their incomes.
This type of rice, priced at four yuan ($0.6) per kilogram, can generate 1,000 yuan ($151) more per mu, than corn, wheat or other traditional crops grown on the North China Plain.
The new variety is expected to help farmers explore new water-saving cultivation methods and it could bring huge benefits. For instance, super hybrid has an average output of 1,149 kilograms per mu, or 17.2 tonnes per hectare of farmland, a new world record.
The seawater rice, which can grow in salty, alkaline fields, yields about 500 kilograms per mu. Over the next 5 to 8 years, China is expected to use 100 million mu of land for seawater rice.
Meanwhile, the “Giant” rice, which can grow more than 2 meters tall, can produce 1,000 kilograms per mu of farmland and it provides an excellent habitat for fish and other water products with zero pollution.
Rice was first domesticated in China and it is one of the most beloved staples in China. Rice paddies account for about one fourth of China’s arable land for staple foods, and its yield account for more than half of the total staple food output.
Rice is believed to have a domestication history of 14,000 to 18,000 years and is one of the world’s main crops. Nearly half of the world’s population, including almost all of East and Southeast Asia, live on rice.
By Huang Fahong
Also published on Medium.