Research and Extension Programs

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. While rice is the core of our 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. The RREC also serves as one of two County Extension Offices serving Arkansas County. Mr. Grant Beckwith and Mr. Phil Horton serve as county agricultural agents and offer agricultural programs to the citizens of Arkansas County.

Rice Breeding

Dr. Karen Moldenhauer, Dr. Xueyan Sha, Dr. Ehsan Shakiba, and Ms. Debbie Ahrent-Wisdom are charged with developing conventional varieties and hybrid varieties for improved grain and milling yields, early maturity, disease and lodging resistance, and superior grain quality. The breeders are developing Southern long grain rice varieties, medium grain varieties, and aromatic varieties that meet specialty markets. Breeding lines are selected to meet these objectives using the most efficient methods, including molecular markers, winter nurseries, and conventional methodologies. A newly formed team investigating the effects of high night temperature (HNT) includes Dr. Ramesh Dhakal, Dr. Manuel Esguerra and Mr. Courtland Hemphill. Arkansas rice growers have become increasingly concerned about the negative impact HNT conditions have on grain yield and quality. The purpose of the HNT team is to enhance the breeding programs with new genetic resources providing tolerance to the negative impact of HNT conditions on rice production in Arkansas.

Plant Pathology

Dr. Yeshi Wamishe, Extension Plant Pathologist, leads a comprehensive extension and applied research program to address disease management in Arkansas rice. She supports the breeding programs and works closely with agronomists in deploying disease management strategies. A major effort is focused on whole plant evaluations under natural and inoculated conditions in the field or greenhouse.

Rice Physiology

Dr. Paul Counce provides fundamental understanding of physiological processes related to rice breeding, production, and processing. Emphasis includes partitioning of carbohydrates, the grain-filling process, source-sink relationships, photo-protection, and photo-oxidative damage and the interaction between rice and other organisms. Dr. Counce is also seeking to define the role of high nighttime temperatures in rice production.


Dr. Chris Henry leads in the development of new technologies for conserving water in crop production in Arkansas. He is also responsible for conducting medium- and long-term research on the surface and groundwater resources of Arkansas as it relates to irrigation of all row crops.

Agricultural Economics

Dr. Brad Watkins is engaged in evaluating the impacts of new and existing technologies and management practices and the economic impact of dynamic government policies on the profitability and sustainability of rice production in Arkansas.


Dr. Samy Sadaka is engaged in the development of new technology for maximizing efficiency of on-farm drying and storage.

Extension Agronomy

Dr. Jarrod Hardke coordinates statewide educational programs on all aspects of rice production technology for county extension agents, consultants, growers, and others involved in rice production. Programs include the Advanced Variety Testing (Arkansas Rice Performance Trials), Rice DD50 Program, the RICESEED program, and the Rice Research Verification Program. In-season information such as pest alerts, management decisions, and production recommendations are reported on the Arkansas Row Crops Blog.

Extension Entomology

Dr. Nick Bateman leads the rice insect management efforts. His program focus is applied research and education on IPM in rice, but includes insect management on all crops grown in Southeast Arkansas.


Foundation Seed

Dr. Glenn Bathke is responsible for the Foundation Seed Plant and producing and marketing Foundation Seed of publicly released rice, soybean and wheat varieties.