Paddy Rice in Santa Catarina


Rice is one of the major cash crops for Brazil and for the state of Santa Catarina, and the annual production value for this state represents around US$ 300 millions. The state of Santa Catarina has an area of 1.12% of the Brazilian territory, although the area that could be farmed is only 12% of its territory, nevertheless, this state is ranked the fifth food supplier in Brazil. The total state rice area of about 150,000 ha, cultivated by about 8,377 farmers, mostly small. Almost 100% of the rice area in Santa Catarina is water-seeded wih pre-germinated seeds. A total os 59 industries are directly involved with the rice production. The state rice yield in the 2009-10 season was estimated in 7.0 t/ha, whereas in some areas, like in the high Itajaí Valley, the average yield can be as higher as 10 t/ha. In this region, like Agronomica, the yield can even reach up to 12-13 t/ha.

The establishment of paddy rice as a major crop and its economic feasibility in small families owned farms in Santa Catarina, is the result of the technologies developed by public research and rural extension efforts. The consequences, in this sense, are the attainment of very high rice yields, which can, in great part, be attributed to the use of the modern rice varieties developed by Epagri (Santa Catarina State Agricultural Research and Rural Extension Agency). Yields higher than 10 t/ha under farmer conditions are very common. In the late 70´s, average yields were around 2.3 t/ha. Epagri´s Breeding Program started in 1976 at Itajaí Experiment Station, established nearly this time. Since 1980, Epagri has released 15 varieties for Santa Catarina (and some others for other regions). As result, it can estimated that 98-99% of the rice área in Santa Catarina is cultivated with Epagri´s cultivars. This was decisive to improve rice yield in Santa Catarina. Epagri´s varieties are spread all over the rice irrigated areas in Brazil, reaching also other countries like Paraguai, Bolívia, Argentina and Venezuela. Nowadays some cooperative research has been carried out in some African´s countries.

Main rice research areas:
a) Plant Breeding (high yield, cooking quality, stress tolerance, cold tolerance, herbicide resistance, induced mutation)
b) Weed Science (weed management, herbicide resistance, new herbicides)
c) Insects management
d) Diseases management
e) Soils fertility and plan nutrition
f) Seed production and technology (genetic, foundation and certified seeds)

Rice Breeding Program at Epagri:

The general goal of Epagri´s rice breeding program is to develop improved long grains genotypes for blast resistance and grain quality. Recently, the program is directed to promote genetic variability and also to develop technologies that minimize the environmental impact of the rice crop. In the beginning of the research activities of Empasc (since 1991 called Epagri) program, local grown varieties developed by others research institution from São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, were replaced by the new modern types lines from national and international institutes (CIAT and IRRI).

The methods currently used in the Epagri´s breeding programm are pedigree, recurrent selection and induced mutations. Annually, around 150 different crosses and backcrosses are done. These crosses originates arround 150,000 individual F2 and F3 plants, annually, which are submitted to field selection to compose the preliminary studies which include about 300 F4 families, and in the following year, 200 F5 families (called ‘Preliminary’ experiment). The F1 to F5 populations are hand transplanted in the field. In the sequence, about 30 to 50 F6 lines form the advanced trials. In the final stages, normally not early than in F7. The advanced lines (around 20) are tested in 5 different locations (on-farm trials) for three years through out the three major rice production areas of Santa Caratina. The management of this rice fields follows Epagri´s recommendations for the farmes. In these trials, each line is broadcasted in 4 x 15 m plots.

The data in Tables 1 and 2 show the results of the regional trials over the period of 1981-2006. Rice varieties and the results, at that point in time, showed yields of 4.08 t/ha (Table 1) when traditional varieties were used. At this time (1981/82), yield of the modern varieties reached 6.31 t/ha when the three ‘Empasc’ varieties (Empasc 101, 102 and 103), two IRRI ones (IR 665 and IR 841) and one CIAT/ICA variety (Cica 4) are considered. Other two varieties even tested and recommended for short period of time were Dawn and Lebonnet, showing 4.03 t/ha yield over years.

Table 1. Traditional Rice Varieties in Santa Catarina in the 80´s and its first and last year appearance on the list of the ‘bulletin of recommended varieties for SC’

In the other hand, Empasc/Epagri´s ‘Modern Varieties’ (Table 2) show yields at a level of 7.54 t/ha, whereas this value reached 8.15 t/ha if only recent Epagri varieties are considered (Epagri 108 to SCS 114 Andosan). Both varieties, show an yield improvement of 84.8% and 99.75% respectively, over the ‘Old Traditional Varieties’. It is not possible, with these data, to isolate the total gain that really means genetic gain, and how much of it is due to other technological advances. It is expected, however, similar results obtained from Irga in south Brazil.

Table 2. Modern Rice Varieties used in Santa Catarina from 1981/82 to 2006/07 and its first and last year appearance on the list of the ‘bulletin of recommended varieties for SC’

Epagri´s Rice Research Team

Research area
José Alberto Noldin, Ph.D.,
(Team Leader)
Weed Science/ Environmental Science
Alexander de Andrade, Dr.
Plant Breeding and Proteomics
Domingos S. Eberhardt, M.Sc.
Eduardo Rodrigues Hickel, Dr.
Ester Wickert, Dr.
Plant Breeding and Molecular Biology (Genetic Resources)
Gabriela Neves Martins, Dr.
Seed Production and Technology
Irceu Agostini, M.Sc.
Agricultural Economy
Klaus K. Scheuermann, Dr.
Phytopathology and Molecular Biology
Moacir A. Schiocchet, Dr.,
Breeding and Post Harvesting Sciences
Ronaldir Knoblauch, Dr.,
Soil Science
Rubens Marschalek, Dr.,
Plant Breeding and Molecular Biology


Support Staff:
Samuel Batista dos Santos
Geovani Porto
Juliana Vieira Raimondi (Doctorate Student/UFSC)
Jaqueline Nogueira Muniz (M.Sc. Student/UDESC-CAV)



SILVA, C. A. F. 2006 Síntese Anual da Agricultura de Santa Catarina 2005-2006 [online]. Avalilable:
SANTOS, A. B.; STONE, L. F.; VIEIRA, N.R. 2006. A cultura do arroz irrigado. 2ª ed.. Santo Antônio de Goiás: Embrapa Arroz e Feijão, ch. 9.
LOPES, S. I.G.; LOPES, M.C.B.; LIMA, A.L.; SANTOS, A.S.; FREITAS, P.R.; CREMONESI, J.; COSTA, M.S.; LEAL, C.E.B. 2005. Congresso Brasileiro de Arroz Irrigado, Santa Maria, 67-69.
Epagri 1981-2006 Avaliação de Cultivares para o estado de Santa Catarina (Boletim Técnico). Florianópolis: Epagri.
Epagri 2002. A cultura do arroz irrigado pré-germinado. Florianópolis, Epagri, ch. 6.
Epagri 2005 Sistema de produção de arroz irrigado em Santa Catarina.   (Sistemas de Produção, 32). Florianópolis: Epagri, 87p.
MARSCHALEK, R. ; SCHIOCHET, M.A.; VIEIRA, J. ; BACHA, R. E.; ISHIY, T. Rice breeding in Santa Catarina State, Brazil – The efforts and results from the breeding program of Epagri – Itajaí Experiment Station. In: 4th Temperate Rice Conference 2007, 2007, Novara. Proceedings of the Fourth Temperate Rice Conference. Novara : SIRFI, 2007. v. 1. p. 248-249.