Basmati Rice in India : Its Export Potential
The plant of Basmati rice is very tall and weak and hence prone to lodging. Basmati rice is photo-period sensitive and susceptible to most of the insect pests and diseases. Breakage percentage of long and extra long grain on milling is very high, giving lower head recovery. Generally, productivity of Basmati rice in traditional growing areas is as low as 10 Quintals/Hectare. The typical aroma is evident at all stages of crop growth in almost all aerial parts of the plant. The principal aroma compound responsible for the unique flavour of Basmati rice has been identified as 2-Acetyle-1-Pyrroline.
All the Basmati rice varieties are known to produce better aroma when these cultivars are exposed to cool weather conditions during ripening. Hence Basmati rice requires relatively cooler temperatures (25°C in day and 21°C at night) during crop maturity for better retention of aroma. The Basmati rice exhibits location effect quite considerably. Therefore the best quality of Basmati rice is grown in traditional areas due to an interaction of genotype, soil and environmental factors.
Timely sowing and transplanting of Basmati rice is an important factor in determining grain yield and quality parameters. Sowing nursery in the first week of June is ideal in Uttranchal, western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. Raising nursery in Punjab during the last week of May ensures strong aroma and high yields. In Haryana, late sowing was the practice in the past to ensure better quality but to take care of the blast disease, early June sowing is now followed.
Transplanting should be completed by the end of July. Traditional varieties are sensitive to photo-period, known as date fixed (flower, when received day hour less than 12) but new semi-dwarf varieties are weak in sensitivity to photo-period and are almost period fixed. In fact early sowing or transplanting produces higher yields while late improves quality. Also, early transplanting of traditional varieties prolonged the duration of vegetative phase resulting into a tall and leafy crop and such a crop is more prone to lodging because of excessive vegetative growth and plant height.
Several varieties of aromatic rice is grown and consumed as Basmati rice. In fact few varieties like - Basmati-370 (Punjab Basmati), Type-3 (Dehradoon Basmati), Karnal Local (Taraori Basmati) and Pakistani Basmati only fulfill the quality norms of real Basmati rice.
Successful research efforts for over two decades have resulted in the development of Pusa Basmati-1, Kasturi and Haryana Basmati-1. These high yielding semi-dwarf varieties are better at giving more yields than the traditional varieties. But these varieties could not prove their excellency over traditionally grown Basmati with respect to quality and resistant against pests and diseases. However, Pusa Basmati-1 has been accepted by the farmers and consumers largely due to its ability of high yields and quality which are more or less similar to indigenous Basmati rice.
Quality characteristics of high yielding, semi-dwarf and traditional tall varieties of Basmati are given in Table-3.
Source : State Level Training Manual and the Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad.