Record rice yield for Kununurra

Siva Sivapalan.
Camera IconSiva Sivapalan. Credit: Countryman

Planning for next year's dry season Ord rice trials focused on improving the quality of harvested rice, with priority given to the parameters of a high mill-out percentage and low chalk.

Department of Agriculture and Food rice research trial results have been reviewed and next season's program developed at a recent industry meeting in Kununurra.

Department development officer Siva Sivapalan said participants at the end-of-season rice updates included growers, agronomists, researchers and industry representatives from WA, Northern Territory and New South Wales.

"A key outcome of department rice trials this year was a record yield of 14.3t/ha resulting from the use of locally-adapted varieties, ideal planting time and better water management," Dr Sivapalan said. "This was complemented by significantly lower than anticipated water leakage beneath rice crops.

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"Prior to this experiment, there was speculation of considerable deep percolation under ponded rice culture, which would have made groundwater management critical for large areas of rice production.

"Our measurements revealed water leakage of less than 1mm/day, which is within the manageable limit."

Analysis of this year's 14.3t/ha crop, at a farm gate value of $317/t, by department economist Francis Bright indicated gross margins would be $2,295/ha, representing a very attractive gross margin for rice growers, compared to many other field crops grown in the region.

"Rice update participants also heard from department research officer Vincent Lanoiselet, via video link, about a new three-year project to address the devastating rice fungal disease, rice blast," Dr Sivapalan said.

"This important national project, funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and involving scientists from the department, the University of Western Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, will involve screening resistant varieties to find the best for Australian conditions.

"Rice blast stopped the rice industry in its tracks in northern WA in 2011 when it affected commercial crops in the Ord. This project is expected to help develop an economically viable rice industry in WA."

Other presentations covered rice trials in the Northern Territory, which are important for the Ord region, and advice on local rice commercialisation issues.

Rice trials in WA and the Northern Territory are jointly funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Rice Research Australia.

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