Yuan Longping (center), a hybrid rice expert, checks a new strain of hybrid rice at a pilot field in Handan, Hebei province, on Oct 15, 2017. [Photo/VCG]
Exacting standards applied to fields in hopes of boosting food supply
A new world record for a single crop of rice was set in North China"s Hebei province this year by a hybrid strain that delivered an annual yield of 17.2 metric tons of rice per hectare of farmland.
The high-yield hybrid rice, called Xiangliangyou 900, was developed by a team led by Yuan Longping, who developed the world"s first hybrid strain in the 1970s.
Under a three-year test, the rice was planted on a 6.8-hectare field in Guangfu town, Handan. This year"s yield was the highest to date, according to Hebei Guigu Fertilizer Co, which cooperates with Yuan"s team in managing the field.
"This is the highest yield in the world, and much higher than the world average," Yuan said on Sunday when this year"s yield was estimated.
The global average is about 10 metric tons per hectare, according to Yan Hongtao, general manager of Hebei Guigu.
Yan said the high-yield strain needs to be carefully cultivated, from planting seedlings to transplanting, fertilizing and pest control.
"Each step is managed precisely," Yan said. "The space between two rows of rice seedlings must be 45 centimeters or 35 centimeters to ensure their healthy growth."
He added that organic silicon fertilizers used during the growth phase can overcome contamination from soil and improve soil conditions, allowing the rice to grow smoothly.
The record-setting field is just one of the testing grounds in China for Yuan"s hybrid strains of rice. His goal is to expand the scale of high-yield rice production.
Overall, the team has managed 42 test fields in 16 provincial regions across the country, including Yunnan, Shaanxi, Guangdong, Chongqing and Hunan.
Hybrid rice, sometimes called super rice, is produced by crossbreeding different varieties. Yuan has set three world records in hybrid rice yield - in 1999, 2005 and 2011, according to Xinhua News Agency.
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