The Foundation Seed Program had its beginning in the spring of 1941. At that time the Beaumont Center was still located at the old site in Amelia. Researchers had a small quantity of a newly developed rice variety and several barrels of an improved strain of Blue Rose, but lacked the land to grow out an increase. Researchers met with A.H. Boyt, President of The American Rice Growers Association in Beaumont, D.W. Edwards who was manager of the Texas Public Service Farms Company and a few local producers. 

Seed processing facilities at the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Research Center in Beaumont. Funds provided by TRIA allowed construction of the seed barn, in addition to other storage areas, labs and equipment.

It was agreed that the Texas Public Service Farms Company would grow the seed on their land, under the supervision of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. Soon after, 28 acres of land near Nome was planted, with all expenses covered by the Texas Public Service Farms Company. Sales for that first crop of seed rice amounted to $2,316.00.

Seed production continued, and in July of 1943 a State Charter was granted and the Texas Rice Improvement Association (TRIA) officially became a voluntary, non-profit association. It was formed primarily for the purpose of producing and distributing seed of new varieties, and giving financial support to experiments dealing with rice improvement. The list of incorporators included A.H. Boyt, J.C. Dishman, E.T. Fuller, Jr., H.R. Hunsucker and E.V. (Pat) Boyt. In 1945 the Beaumont Center moved to its present location west of Beaumont, with land financed by this core group that made up TRIA. Currently, the organization owns approximately 525 acres at the Beaumont and 78 acres of land at the Eagle Lake Research Station. All told, TRIA has provided over $10 million for research, and created the Rice Quality Lab, two field labs, cold storage facilities, the implement shed, storage barn, seedsman home, and the seed processing plant.

Mike Doguet is the current president of the Texas Rice Improvement Association. Brenda Setliff is Secretary/Treasurer. Brenda Setliff and Foundation Seed Manager Julio Castillo shares offices on-site at the Beaumont Center. As Secretary/Treasurer, Brenda Setliff is responsible for keeping financial records, recording meeting minutes, maintaining historical documents and insuring that the charter requirements for the organization are met.

Julio Castillo has been the Foundation Seed Manager for TRIA since 2006. His duties span the gamut from tractor work to supervising employees in the care and upkeep of foundation fields. Each year, approximately 150 acres at the Center are dedicated to foundation seed production. And while the planting scheme has varied over the years, Castillo currently practices a 3-year rotation, as required by state law. This insures that fields are kept clean, especially from red rice, and the foundation seed produced is of the highest possible quality.

Foundation fields are planted between March 15th and April 15th. The seeding rate is 50 to 80 lbs/ac depending on the variety. Seed is treated with Icon (for rice water weevils), Release (growth hormone), Vitavax (warm season fungicide), Allegence (cool season fungicide) and zinc (seedling vigor and development.) For the base fertilizer, Castillo incorporates 200 lbs/ac of diammonium phosphate (18-46-0) two days prior to planting. Soil tests are performed every other year, and if a need is indicated, special fertilizer blends are applied. After planting, the fields are rolled and the herbicide Command is applied for grass control. The fields are then flushed and drained. If needed, a 33-0-0 urea and ammonium sulfate blend is applied during flushing after the three-leaf stage. While this source is more expensive, Castillo feels that the nitrogen stays in the tissues longer, creating healthier plants.

At the 5-leaf stage a foliar application of Gibberellic acid tank mixed with an herbicide may be applied to boost growth and reduce weed populations. The day before permanent flood urea is applied at a rate of 100 – 200 lbs/ac, depending on the variety and stand count. Permanent flood is established roughly 30 days after seedling emergence. The fields are thoroughly rogued for off-types throughout the growing season, beginning at PD. The last urea applications are made at panicle initiation (PI), 100 lbs/ac, at panicle differentiation (PD), 50 - 75 lbs/ac, and 10 days after PD, 50 – 75 lbs/ac.

Pest populations are closely monitored, with stinkbugs being the main threat. The fields are watched closely from first flowering through the milk stages and Karate is applied at a rate of 4 oz/ac every 15 days if needed. There is a new product introduced for rice in October of 2001 called Fury. It is similar to Karate, and labeled for the same pests. Castillo is considering rotating the two, to avoid build up of resistant pest populations. Fungicide is applied as a precautionary measure 7 – 10 days past PD.

The Texas Department of Agriculture inspects the fields no more than 4 days prior to harvest, looking for off-types and red rice infestation. In addition to this, a 10 lb bulk sample must be sent to the TDA lab in Giddings for further evaluation before the seed is approved. Harvest begins in July, and anything harvested before August 15th may be ratooned, although this rice is not sold as seed. The grain is dried and stored at the Center, with extreme care taken to maintain the purity of the seed rice. The combines are thoroughly disassembled and cleaned after each variety is harvested, removing the header and all the screens, to insure that cross contamination does not occur. 

Brenda Setliff is the TRIA Secretary/Treasurer. She Handles the office end of running the foundation seed rice program.

In the 2001 crop year Saber, Jefferson, Bolivar, Lemont and Della were produced by the foundation seed program. A commercial field of Dixiebelle was also produced. The TRIA board will meet in January to decide which varieties will be grown in 2002, but indications are the list will include Saber, Bolivar, Jasmine 85, Cypress and Cocodrie. The deadline for placing foundation seed orders is January 18th. If the pre-deadline orders for a variety exceed the supply available, then the seed will be allocated by the TRIA board. After the January 18th deadline, remaining seed is distributed on a first come, first served basis. It is to the grower’s advantage to order early, to insure they will get what they need for that crop year.