Steven A. Brooks, United States Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, Stuttgart, AR 72160;
Merle M. Anders, University of Arkansas, Rice Research and Extension Center, Stuttgart 72160; and
Kathleen M. Yeater, USDA-ARS SPA, College Station, TX 77845
False smut (Ustilaginoidea virens) and kernel smut (Neovossia horrida) are diseases of rice (Oryza sativa) that reduce both grain yield and quality. False smut is an emerging disease worldwide that is rapidly gaining in importance, whereas kernel smut has historically been a chronic minor disease with sporadic outbreaks that cause considerable losses. Highly effective disease control was obtained for susceptible cultivars by employing conservation tillage (69% reduction in false smut), continuous rice cropping (88% reduction in false smut), and moderate nitrogen fertility rates (34 and 60% reductions in false smut and kernel smut, respectively). Combining these treatments nearly eliminated smuts from cultivars that were fully susceptible under conventional cultivation practices. Furthermore, using a nursery designed to promote smut diseases, two rice hybrids were identified that possessed kernel smut resistance under the most favorable disease conditions. The genetic basis of the resistance is unknown. However, the utility for disease control is great because hybrids occupy significant portions of production rice acreage.