If we're talking about cooking, the most probable answer might be 'yes, I guess they're alright'. But, in the case of farming rice, salt is definitely a big no-no for farmers. Now, why is that? Can salt really have such a bad effect on rice?
According to IRRI’s Dr. Abdel Ismail and a team of scientists who just published a paper about this topic, salt doesn't just affect the yield and growth of rice (especially young rice crops, which are quite sensitive to salt), but also their ability to synthesize carbohydrates into useful energy known as carbohydrate metabolism. Salt also wreaks havoc on the crop's ability to produce enough chlorophyll – that green stuff on the leaves that takes care of plant food production – or even just to make sure that this food production process called photosynthesis works.
But, surprisingly, rice can also have this amazing ability to adapt to salt stress if it either stores higher amounts of carbohydrates in its tissues before the stress occurs or uses higher amounts of what essential substances were produced during photosynthesis. To try and understand these processes or the effects of salt stress on rice better, Abdel and the team exposed and compared a moderately tolerant rice crop with a tolerant one in saline conditions…learn more from their journal article.
- Less salt, please (Rice Today magazine, Apr 2007)
- Double-trouble rice (IRRI Annual report 2010)
- Bangladesh combats the white plague (Rice Today magazine, July 2011)