Rice is cultivated as a rainfed crop in the districts of Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga in southern Tamil Nadu. The success of rainfed rice cultivation depends on receiving sufficient rainfall at critical growth stages of the crop. Rice lands in Tamil Nadu often suffer from premature withdrawal of monsoons.The rice crop is thus subjected to varying degrees of drought stress, and this affects yield greatly. To minimize yield loss during years of significant deviation from normal rainfall, rice varieties with improved drought tolerance are needed.
PMK(R)3 (Paramakudi), an early-maturing (107-118 d) rice variety developed at TNAU, is capable of fulfilling this need. Derived from UPLRi /CO 43, it has recorded a mean grain yield of 3.0 t ha-1 from 83 trials. These trials were conducted across years and locations, with a 13% and 17% yield increase over local drought tolerant check varieties PMK 2 and TKM 11, respectively (Table 1). Under direct-sown conditions in the national coordinated trials, it gave the highest yields in 1995-96 and 1998-99, 12% and 26% more than the early-maturing national checks, Annada and Tulasi. PMK(R)3 was released as a new variety for cultivation in Tamil Nadu.