Historical records have shown extensive evidence of how Japanese value their rice grains. As technology in rice production continues to improve, the quest to produce top of the line rice brands that suit the Japanese palate also continues. One of the products of such rigorous efforts to develop a new rice brand in Hokkaido is called Yumepirika.
Every year, there are about 100 varieties of rice that are crossbred, which produce about 150,000 to 200,000 offspring. Before a new brand is released in the Japanese rice market, the first three or four years are devoted to raising several succeeding generations, in order to establish the desired characteristics of the rice brand. During these years, researchers perform several tests on the rice grains which cover the flavor, the resilience of the crop against cold and diseases, and the yield. After performing these quality control tests, the hybrid that had the best performance will then be chosen: a test crop of that rice hybrid will be given to the farmers to grow. Before a rice brand can be successfully registered, research can take up to 10 years just to test the crop.
The limited scale of production can sometimes lead to a huge delay in the registration of the rice brand. After completing the stages of cross-breeding, planting, harvesting, threshing and testing, some researchers are still unable to register the rice brand. Thus, patience is a virtue that is definitely needed, especially when developing a new strain of rice. The most promising hybrids are chosen based on the particular strength of the plant in one of the many factors that were considered in selecting the best hybrid, i.e. whiteness of the grain, consistency of the size and the like.
An experiment on Yumepirika was established in 1997 by crossing the Hokkai 287 strain, which produces a variety known for its stickiness, with the Hoshitaro strain which is known to be high-yielding. Because the time to produce offspring with a distinct
characteristic can be very long, a special method was used to lessen the time to produce it. The stamen was placed in the pollen in test tubes and plants grew from the pollen. About 23,000 stamens were in the test tubes and 600 seedlings were yielded from the hybrid. In 2009, this hybrid has won a competition, and Yumepirika was born. The brand was almost disqualified because of the very low yield, however, because the flavor of the seeds was very exceptional researchers became convinced that this brand is promising. This has lead to further research on how to increase the yield for local consumption.
Would you like to try these newest kinds of rice, made to be more delicious than its parent plants?