Foundation Seed Program
Phone: 870-673-2661, ext 231
Phone: 870-673-2661, ext 224
The Center’s mission is to investigate, validate and disseminate the best practices for sustainable rice production for Arkansas farmers. The research conducted at the RREC is primarily field-oriented, problem-solving, and applied. Rice breeding efforts for cultivar development are aided by DNA marker-assisted analysis to identify traits associated with rice blast resistance genes, cooking quality, plant height, bran color, leaf texture, aroma, male sterility, fertility restoration, and herbicide tolerance. While rice is the core of the Center’s activity, the RREC is also the site for important research on soybeans, corn, grain sorghum, and wheat. Research and extension initiatives are determined by the needs of the Arkansas agricultural industry. The scientists work as a team to conduct research to meet those needs. Funding for RREC programs is derived from state and federal funds, commodity board check-off funds, and private industry grants, contracts and donations.
- Encompasses 1022 acres in Arkansas County located 7 miles East of Stuttgart on State Highway 130
- 732 tillable acres and a 108-acre reservoir & canal system and one deep well
- Home of Division of Agriculture’s Foundation Seed Processing Facility
- The soil texture is silt loam and comprised almost entirely of the Dewitt series
- Both the USDA Dale Bumpers National Rice Germplasm Center and the Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center are adjacent
- RREC scientists have developed and released over 30 rice varieties and management recommendations during the last 35 years
- Staff consists of the station director, foundation seed director, 11 faculty, over 30 full-time research technicians, and eight full-time farm employees
- 600 acres in precision-graded fields for research and seed production
- 2,940 sq. ft of total greenhouse space
- 16,616 sq. ft. of laboratory space
- 350-seat conference center and kitchen
- Seed processing facility with a 5,720 sq. ft. warehouse, 25,000 bushel grain storage, 200 sq. ft. cold storage, and office and meeting room space
- Home to the Arkansas County Extension Agent Branch Office
The Rice Research & Extension Center is one of the best regarded and oldest rice research centers in the world. In 1923, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the creation of the Rice Branch Experiment Station (Acts 1923, No. 753, Sections 1-3) in the “center of rice production” to be on soils fairly representative of soils where rice is grown in the state and with the general mandate to investigate “problems of rice farmers, including rice production, rice varieties, soils and soil management, irrigation, rotation, other crops for the rice farmer, livestock and poultry for the rice region, and the fruits and truck crops adapted to such system of farming together with the economic problems of the farmers of that region.”
With funding provided in 1925, a 160-acre commercial rice farm between Stuttgart and Almyra was purchased that was “typical of the majority of the rice-growing soils of Arkansas”, and work started at the new station on Dec. 13, 1926. The land was originally prairie sod, which had been in rice production since 1908. It had “fallen heir to many if not all the pests that bring grief to the rice farmer, but this fact only affords the greater opportunity for service.”
As one of the only research stations in the US at the time devoted to rice, and having the benefit of being located on one of the best-paved roads in the state, the Rice Branch Experiment Station was almost immediately a destination for scientists, Extension agents, and farmers from around the country. Five major challenges of rice growing were initially studied: the rate of seeding, the date of seeding, the quality of varieties, control of grasses, and efficacy of fertilizers. In addition, studies were made of some of the worst insect and plant disease enemies of the rice crop. By 1929, the Station now included new office and laboratory spaces and a director’s residence.
Since 1930, the Center has hosted research in plant breeding, agronomy, soil science, pathology, entomology, physiology, and economics. The 1940s saw the station triple in size while the 1950s saw the addition of the foundation seed plant. In the 1960s, the Station grew to 915 acres. In the 1970s, the Division of Agriculture greatly improved the research facilities to be followed in 2010 by the dedication of a state-of-the-art Granary facility that currently anchors the Division’s world-recognized center. In 2018, the Center dedicated a new greenhouse and growth chamber facility that is dedicated to research in high nighttime temperature tolerance and hybrid breeding. In 1981, the station was renamed the Rice Research & Extension Center and remains today as the second largest center (staffing and facilities) within the Division of Agriculture.