History of the Rice Research and Extension Center

The Rice Branch Experiment Station during the 1930's showing the original farmhouse known as Taggert's Corner, and, in the background, the brick buildings completed in 1929 for offices and the Director's Residence.

Since 1930, the Center has housed research project leaders in the areas of plant breeding, agronomy, soil science, pathology, entomology, physiology, and economics. Some research programs began as cooperative efforts between the University of Arkansas and the USDA/ARS (e.g. rice breeding, physiology) and some remain cooperative efforts (weed science). Numerous scientists from Fayetteville have participated in Center research, and at times directed it. The following are scientists that have been housed at the Rice Research and Extension Center, Stuttgart.

CENTER DIRECTORS

Heartsill Banks  1927 – 1936
L. Clyde Carter   1936 – 1944
Dr. John W. White   1944 – 1948
J.O. Dockins   1948 – 1951
James Campbell   1951 – 1953
Francis J. Williams  1953 – 1988
Dr. Thomas Evard   1988 – 1989
Dr. John F. Robinson  1989 – 2001
Dr. Karen A.K. Moldenhauer   2001 – 2002 (interim)
Dr. Christopher W. Deren  2002 – 2010
Dr. Charles E. (Chuck) Wilson, Jr., 2010 – 2016
Dr Nathan McKinney, Interem 2016 – present

 


VARIETAL IMPROVEMENT

Current Faculty

Dr. Karen Ann Kuenzel Moldenhauer (1982 – Present), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, assumed responsibility for varietal development in 1982. She has released 18 varieties, including 'Tebonnet' (1983), 'Katy' (1989), 'Millie' (1990), 'Alan' (1990), 'Orion' (1991), 'Lagrue' (1993), 'Drew' (1996), 'Wells' (1999), 'Ahrent' (2001), 'Francis' (2002), ‘Banks’ (2004), ‘Spring’ (2005), ‘CL 171AR’ (2006), ‘Taggart’ (2009), ‘Templeton’ (2009), ‘CL 142 AR’ (2009), ‘CL 181 AR’ (2009), ‘RoyJ’ (2010) LaKast (2014), CL172 (2016) and Diamond (2016).

Dr. Xueyan Sha (2012 – Present), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, is engaged in leadership for the development of medium-grain and semi-dwarf rice varieties. he has released the variety Titan (2015).

Dr. Ehsan Shakiba (2015  – Present), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, assumed responsibility for hybrid varietal development in 2015.

Debbie Ahrent- Wisdom (2011  – Present)  University of Arkansas plant breeder assumed resposibility for aromatic plant varietal developnent.
 

Past faculty

Test
Station laboratory in 1929

Dr. Roy C. Adair (1931 – 1953), USDA Agronomist, started the rice breeding program. He developed 5 rice varieties: 'Zenith' (1936), 'Arkrose' (1942), 'Kamrose' (1943), 'Rexark' (1943) and 'Prelude' (1943). He also developed the oat varieties 'De Soto' (1942) and 'Taggart'.
 
Dr. T.H. Johnston (1953 – 1983), USDA Research Agronomist, replaced Dr. Adair and developed 11 rice varieties over the next 30 years until his retirement. These include: 'Northrose' (1962), 'Nova' (1963), 'Vegold' (1963), 'Nova 66' (1966), 'Starbonnet' (1967), 'Nortai' (1972), 'Bonnet 73' (1972), 'Nova 76' (1976), 'Mars' (1977), 'Bond' (1983), and 'Newbonnet' (1984). 
 
Dr. Robert Dilday (1981 – 2000), USDA Research Geneticist, was associated with the center as head of the USDA Rice Germplasm Unit. He was instrumental in the conception and funding of the USDA/ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center.

Dr. Kent McKenzie (1981 – 1982) served briefly as the first rice breeder employed by the University of Arkansas and supported by rice farmer check-off funding before moving to Louisiana to assume a rice breeding position there.
 

Dr. Kenneth Gravois (1990 – 1997), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, participated in the program and released the varieties 'Adair' (1993) and 'Kaybonnet' (1994).
 
Dr. James W. Gibbons (1999 – 2011), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, assumed responsibility for developing medium-grain and semi-dwarf varieties.  While on staff at RREC, he released the long-grain variety ‘Cybonnet’ (2004) and the medium grain variety ‘Medark’ (2004).

Dr. Chris Deren (2010 – 2013), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, is engaged in the development of hybrid rice in Arkansas.  Dr. Deren is identifying male sterile lines that can be used to develop hybrids that are adapted to the Southern US.  He released ‘JES’ (2009), an aromatic long-grain variety.

Dr. Greg Berger (2012 – 2014), University of Arkansas Plant Breeder, is responsible for providing leadership in the development of hybrid rice in Arkansas.  Working with Mr. Zongbu Yan, they are engaged in identification and improvement of male sterile lines, selecting appropriate restorer lines, and ultimately development of improved hybrids that have high yield potential and grain quality that ensures marketability.

Test
Visitors Days became annual events starting in 1927.

WEED CONTROL

Dr. Roy J. Smith Jr., USDA Weed Scientist, Adjunct Professor,  (1962 – 1992)
Dr. David Gealy, USDA Research Physiologist, Adjunct Professor, (1993 – Present)
 
NITROGEN FERTILIZATION
 (rate and timing)
Dr. John L. Sims (1958 – 1966)
Dr. Bobby R. Wells (1966 – 1983)
Dr. Richard J. Norman (1983 – 1997)
The program is currently under the direction of Dr. Norman from Fayetteville.
 
RICE PHYSIOLOGY

Dr. Kenneth Olson (1950s) USDA/ARS
Dr. Wade Faw (1970s)
Dr. Paul Counce (1997 – Present)
 
RICE PATHOLOGY

Dr. William Hunter (1970s)
Dr. Fleet Lee (1977 – 2011)
Dr. Yeshi Wamishe (2011 – Present)

RICE ENTOMOLOGY

Dr. John Bernhardt (1985 – 2011)
Dr. Raghu Sathyamurthy (2012 – 2014)
 
SYSTEMS AGRONOMY

Dr. Merle Anders (1998 – 2014)
 
ECONOMICS

Dr. Brad Watkins (2002 – Present)

HYDROLOGY/IRRIGATION SCIENCE

Dr. Chris Henry (2011 – Present)

BIOFUEL ENGINEERING/ GRAIN DRYING SYSTEMS

Dr. Samy Sadaka (2008 – Present)

EXTENSION RICE SPECIALIST

Bobby Huey (1970 – 1990)
Dr. Ronnie Helms (1989 – 1996)
Dr. Walter Mayhew (1996 – 1998)
Dr. Nathan Slaton (1998 – 2001)
Dr. Charles Wilson Jr. (2001 – 2012)
Dr. Jarrod Hardke (2012 – Present)

RICE RESEARCH VERIFICATION PROGRAM

Bill Dodgen (1983 – 1985)
Hank Chaney (1986 – 1989)
Nathan Slaton (1989 – 1994)
Paul Dixon (1994 – 1995)
Walter Mayhew (1996 – 1998)
Brad Koen (1999 – 2002)
Jeff Branson (2002 – 2006)
Stewart Runsick (2004 – 2012) 
Ralph Mazzanti (2007 – Present)
Lance Schmidt (2012 – Present)

EXTENSION PATHOLOGY FOR FIELD CROPS

Dr. Scott Monfort (2007 – 2010)