The Science Behind Rice Hybrids

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Vietnam is the second largest rice exporter in the world, and the Mekong Delta lies at the heart of the country’s rice-producing region. But the Delta is not static. In an effort to feed themselves year-round and maximize opportunities produced by the river’s ebb and flow, farmers in the Mekong Delta flood rice fields with saline water in the dry season to raise shrimp. In the wet season, they use rain and fresh river water to flush the salt out of the soil to prepare for rice planting. This practice poses severe challenges: namely, rice crops do not adapt well to the high salinity caused by the shrimp farming, and crop failures are a frustrating legacy for a people steeped in the agrarian traditions of generations.

One such farming couple, the Thucs, who were featured in the mini-documentary “Salt of the Earth,” can now dream of sending their children to university after planting Pioneer® brand rice hybrid PHB71, a seed that prospers in salty soils and low water levels, producing predictably higher yields in the short four- to five-month planting season that choreographs the rhythm of the Thucs’ lives.

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