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Rice Crop Trials Show Promise for Top End Success

07 December 2011

AUSTRALIA - A Northern Territory research scientist says she has no doubt rice can be grown commercially in the Top End after successful trials at Tortilla Flats, south of Darwin.

Bids to grow rice in the Territory in the 1960s and 1980s failed due to challenging weather conditions and a lack of demand, reports

But, with declining water availability in traditional rice growing areas down south, researchers are again trying rice in the Top End.

They have tested more than 30 varieties in the field and have just finished harvesting at Tortilla Flats and the Katherine Research Station.

Rowena Eastick, from the Department of Resources, says a seed from Vietnam flourished in the conditions.

"It was by far our best yielder and showed ... great promise for the yield," she said.

She says it has a nice looking grain and seems resistant to disease.

"It didn't fall over when it had heavy grain or even got a bit of rain on it late in the season," she said.

"It was good to see it grow so well under our northern Australian conditions."

Ms Eastick says there is an increase in demand and there could be a commercial rice industry up and running in the Territory in a few years' time.

She says there is also a demand for locally-grown rice from restaurants in the Territory.

"They get jasmine rice through Thailand," she said.

"At the moment they are finding it very difficult to get and, probably in a month or so, they won't be able to access that quality of rice due to all the recent floods in Thailand.

"There is obviously some market niche that we can probably look at in the future."

TheCropSite News Desk

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