Posts Tagged: Rice
Contestants in California's rice growing region have worked all summer, and now researchers are harvesting designated plots to be entered into the 2016 UC Cooperative Extension Rice Yield Contest. The contest is in its second year, following a pilot contest in 2015 that included only Butte County farmers.
The contest is held largely for educational purposes, said organizer Bruce Linquist, UCCE specialist based at UC Davis.
“We are providing an opportunity for rice producers and UC scientists to share information about intensive rice production in California,” Linquist said. “We started small last year to be sure our contest wouldn't interfere with the farmers' harvest, and now our contest spans the entire Sacramento Valley.”
Among the five 2015 entrants, farmer Joe Richter came in first, growing variety M-205 and raking in 6.3 tons of rice per acre. Farmer Rodney Jenkins came in second with 5.7 tons per acre growing variety M-206.
The UCCE Rice Yield Contest is modeled after the National Corn Yield Contest, which goes back more than 50 years. The National Corn Growers Association created the contest as a way to encourage advances and new approaches in corn production, and then sharing what is learned on farmer's plots with growers across the country.
Linquist said he believes rice farmers in the contest might try a new approach to boost yield on the contest plot, and if successful, apply it to the rest of the farm in the future. The participating growers are required to share basic crop management information such as variety, planting date, seeding rate, water management; while other practices are asked for but not required.
Yields in the pilot study were high for all the contestants, Linquist said.
“This process gives you an upper limit,” Linquist said. “The information is helpful for sustainable intensification – increasing yields without impacting the environmental footprint.”
The prize for the highest yield was modest in 2015 – a hat and custom engraved hunting knife. But if the UCCE Rice Yield Contest takes off like the National Corn Yield Contest, interest could grow.
“For rice, right now it's more about bragging rights,” Linquist said. “What we'd like to do is get the industry involved. Winning the corn yield contest is a really big deal. The organizers give out a trophy, and the industry gives vacations, small tractors and other prizes.”
Over the last three millennia, the practice of growing rice has evolved and spread throughout much of the globe. From China, through India, to Greece and parts of the Mediterranean and from Europe to the Americas, rice has demonstrated its versatility in desert regions and wetland deltas alike. Abundant in carbohydrates, it is today one of the world’s most widely eaten foods.
While University of California researchers develop rice varieties more tolerant to the modern challenges of climate change — flooding, heat stress, drought — California rice farmers each year discover more new threats in the form of non-native and herbicide-resistant weeds. So well adapted are these weeds that if left unmanaged, they cause rice yields in some places to plummet to nearly nothing.
The introduction of rice to California in 1912 was fraught with weed challenges from the start. The traditional dry-seeding method allowed barnyard grass to quickly overrun fields. While a new water-seeding technique suppressed the weed, it led to a whole other set of problems. In continuously flooded fields — still the most widely used practice in California today — an imported weed, late watergrass, flourished. Aquatic weeds took advantage of the new environment while others gradually became more flood tolerant. For many years, advanced herbicides allowed farmers to gain ground over these weeds.
Then, beginning in the early 1990s, several weed species, including late watergrass, were found to be evolving resistance against the most powerful herbicides. A metabolic resistance to one herbicide, researchers discovered, could lead to resistance for another.
Weeds also found new ways to outcompete rice. One invasive weed, Ludwigia, grows fast and tall — as high as 10 feet. Shadowing the rice plants, it spawns tiny seeds that travel well in water. Other weeds, meanwhile, are small and run along the ground to avoid combines and some emerge earlier in the season than rice, dominating resources.
In the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, professor Albert Fischer’s laboratory is battling rice weeds on a variety of fronts: by researching the evolution and mechanisms of herbicide resistance, finding traits that make rice varieties more competitive, developing resistance techniques through field testing at the industry-supported Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, Calif., and by encouraging farmers to diversify management methods.
One system Fischer encourages is the stale seedbed technique, which allows weeds to emerge first from a reserve of seeds in the soil. Once that flush is up, farmers use a general herbicide to kill the weeds. At least one local farmer with a bad weed problem has controlled late watergrass this way. By replacing herbicides with shallow tilling, organic farmers can use this method.
With each management system is a different combination of growing techniques and herbicides, depending on weather, soil moisture and soil temperature, among other factors. Fischer’s team at the experiment station spends much of its time testing these herbicides on new weeds.
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors encourage growers to also sanitize equipment, rotate crops, scout for surviving weeds and apply herbicide only when necessary, easing selection pressure on weeds while reducing environmental impact. Along that line, Fischer’s team is discovering how switching growing techniques and irrigation systems may be helping farmers meet higher environmental standards, addressing a trend of steeper water prices in California. Other researchers see this as an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases released from decaying rice stalks post-harvest.
For each strategy, researchers weigh costs over benefits to select the right weapons for arming farmers entangled in this ongoing war with weeds.
New in this edition, readers will find information on:
- Exotic pests in rice
- Detecting, confirming and managing herbicide resistance
- New diseases: bakanae, rice blast and false smut
- New weeds: red rice, rice cutgrass, waterstargrass and Monochoria
The publication also has:
- Illustrations now in color
- Life cycle illustrations for each disease
Integrated Pest Management for Rice is UC IPM principal editor Larry Strand’s last work before he retired. The book was written with the help of University of California researchers, Cooperative Extension specialists and farm advisors. The committee of technical editors includes Luis Espino, UCCE advisor in Colusa County; Albert Fischer, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis; Larry Godfrey, UCCE specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis; Christopher Greer, UCCE advisor in Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties; James Hill, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis; Rex Marsh; UCCE specialist emeritus in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis; and Randall (Cass) Mutters, UCCE advisor in Butte County.
IPM for Rice is available for $27 online in the UC ANR Catalog (www.ucanr.edu/IPMRice), and in person at many UC Cooperative Extension county offices. More information, including a view of the table of contents, are on the UC IPM website.
The California rice crop was valued at $850 million in 2011, according to the CDFA crop report.