Combining Limited Multiple Environment Trials Data with Crop Modeling to Identify Widely Adaptable Rice Varieties
Multi-Environment Trials (MET) are conventionally used to evaluate varietal performance prior to national yield trials, but the accuracy of MET is constrained by the number of test environments. A modeling approach was innovated to evaluate varietal performance in a large number of environments using the rice model ORYZA (v3). Modeled yields representing genotype by environment interactions were used to classify the target population of environments (TPE) and analyze varietal yield and yield stability. Eight Green Super Rice (GSR) and three check varieties were evaluated across 3796 environments and 14 seasons in Southern Asia. Based on drought stress imposed on rainfed rice, environments were classified into nine TPEs. Relative to the check varieties, all GSR varieties performed well except GSR-IR1-5-S14-S2-Y2, with GSR-IR1-1-Y4-Y1, and GSR-IR1-8-S6-S3-Y2 consistently performing better in all TPEs. Varietal evaluation using ORYZA (v3) significantly corresponded to the evaluation based on actual MET data within specific sites, but not with considerably larger environments. ORYZA-based evaluation demonstrated the advantage of GSR varieties in diverse environments. This study substantiated that the modeling approach could be an effective, reliable, and advanced approach to complement MET in the assessment of varietal performance on spatial and temporal scales whenever quality soil and weather information are accessible. With available local weather and soil information, this approach can also be adopted to other rice producing domains or other crops using appropriate crop models.