To increase the yield potential while limiting the environmental impact of N management practices is an important issue in rice cultivation. The large-grain rice cultivar Akita 63 showed higher N-use efficiency for grain production. To elucidate this, we analyzed yield characteristics of Akita 63 in comparison with those of a maternal cultivar, Oochikara with a large grain, a paternal cultivar, Akita 39 with a normal grain, and a Japanese leading cultivar, Akitakomachi. The yields of Akita 63 were 20% higher than those of Oochikara and Akita 39, and 50% higher than those of Akitakomachi for the same N application. Akita 63 showed superior N uptake capacity. Whereas a trade-off between single grain weight and grain number was found for Oochikara, Akita 63 did not show such a relationship. The success in Akita 63 breeding was due to overcoming such a trade-off. Akita 63 had the large-grain alleles of GS3 and qSW5. Thus, an enlargement of grain size can have a great impact on an increase in yield with improved N-use efficiency. However, an enlargement of sink capacity led to source limitation. Thus, both sink and source improvements are essential for a further increase in the yield of today’s high-yielding cultivars.
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