China breaks hybrid rice output record

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/16 22:33:39

Scientists in pilot trials in Hebei say ‘high yields are our eternal goal’


Chinese hybrid rice has set a new world record recently, according to the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center, with Chinese scientists carrying out their tests on a pilot field in North China's Hebei Province.

The new hybrid strain, called Xiang Liangyou 900, had the world's highest yields of any variety, at 17.2 tons per hectare, the Science and Technology Daily reported on Sunday.

There were seven scientists taking part in the test conducted on three plots with mild saline soil, out of a total of 100, in Handan city, with their yields at 1,181 kilograms per mu (0.07 hectares), 1,129 kg/mu and 1,136 kg/mu, for an average of about 1,149 kg/mu.

"High yields are our eternal goal and our continued yield improvements lay a solid foundation for China's granaries," Song Chunfang, of the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center, told the Global Times on Monday.

"More importantly, our newest record set a benchmark for farmers. Ordinary farmers will gradually understand the comparative rice output in the future," Song noted, adding that the strain has passed a national test, but it cannot be promoted nationwide because of climate limitations.

The pilot field in Handan sees 205 frost-free days a year, with accumulated temperatures at about 4371 C and annual rainfall at around 594 millimeters, according to the Science and Technology Daily.

It's "very hard" for this variety to have high yields, he said.

During its growth, scientists tested transplanting, fertilization, and moisture and pest controls to be sure about its best features, Song told the Global Times.

Behind all this is China's "father of hybrid rice" Yuan Longping, who began his research on hybrid rice about 50 years ago and kept setting new records in average yields.

Yuan and other Chinese scientists have recently surpassed their expectations on yields from an alkali-resisting "sea rice." 

In this area, the Qingdao saline-alkali tolerant rice research and development center in East China's Shandong Province has come up with four types of rice with an estimated output of from 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China's agriculture ministry launched a hybrid rice breeding program in 1996 and, after four years, hit a first-phase target of 10.5 tons per hectare, under Yuan's research team. It then hit the fourth-phase target of 15.4 tons per hectare in 2014, according to Xinhua.

While about 65 percent of the Chinese depend on rice for a staple food, Yuan has said, "My institution and I are also willing to help other countries develop hybrid rice to contribute to world food security and peace."

There are still 20 million people living on the brink of starvation, the World Food Program said at its official website.  Monday also marked the World Food Day.




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