© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Boron (B) deficiency is becoming a common problem in water-saving rice production systems of South Asia. Boron nutrition can potentially improve the crop performance. This two-year field study was conducted to evaluate the potential of pre-optimized B application through various methods in improving the performance of rice grown in aerobic culture, alternate wetting and drying and flooded systems. Boron was delivered as seed priming (0.1mM B), foliar spray (200mM B), and soil application (1kgBha-1); no B application and hydropriming were taken as control. Boron nutrition by either method improved the plant water relations, total chlorophyll contents, morphological and yield related traits in different rice production systems. In addition to improvement in kernel yield, boron application also improved the kernel quality. Foliar application of boron in flooded rice and alternate wetting and drying gave maximum net returns than all other treatment combinations. In crux, B application through foliar spary or seed priming may be an economically viable option to reduce panicle sterility, improve kernel quality, rice growth and yield. Improvement in rice yield by B application is attributed to increase in kernel size and decrease in panicle sterility.