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Breaking the yield frontier of rice

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Major increases in rice production have occurred during the last 25 years, due to large-scale adoption of high-yielding semidwarf rice varieties. However, the rate of increase of rice production has slowed down, and the rate of population growth of rice consumers is now higher than the rate of increase of rice production. Severe food shortages are therefore likely to occur in 20–30 years if the trend is not reversed. To meet these food needs, rice varieties with higher yield potential are needed. The yield potential of the modern high-yielding varieties grown under the best tropical conditions is 10 t ha−1. A research program is under way to develop varieties with a yield potential of 15 t ha−1. One strategy aims to develop new rice plants with a harvest index of 0.6 (60% grain: 40% straw by weight) and with an increased ability for photosynthesis to increase total biological yield. The harvest index of the modern high-yielding varieties is 0.5. Such new varieties should have a yield potential of 12.5–13 tons ha−1. These new plant type varieties will be used to produce hybrid rices with a yield advantage of 25% over the best parent. Such hybrids would have a yield potential of 15 t ha−1.

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Khush, G.S. Breaking the yield frontier of rice. GeoJournal 35, 329–332 (1995).

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