What is in this article?:
- Initial yield returns were 8,000 pounds (80, 100-pound sacks) of medium-grain Calrose rice per acre.
- Rice prices early in the season were good, but below the highest price of about $1,000 per ton FOB milled in 2008.
- Strange production year illustrates the resiliency of high quality rice varieties currently available to growers.
- Largest challenge for the financial viability of California rice growers is controlling production costs.
“It was the latest crop we ever planted,” Mathews said. “It was a very rushed approach; we call it shotgun planting,” Mathews said while eyeing his idled combine awaiting a mechanic’s attention.
“Shotgunning means you go as fast as you can and don’t try to perfect anything or clean things up. We had to get the water started and the seed planted between the rain storms.”
The rushed approach left perfecting land leveling for next year and cancelled extra field chiseling and disking. The plus side of this was reduced production costs.
“The fields had big clods and muddy spots since the soil didn’t get a chance to dry out completely,” Mathews said. “It was like spreading peanut butter.”
Mathews estimates his consumptive water use this growing season at 3.5 acre feet/acre; with water coming from the Yuba River.
For the first time, Mathews treated for sheath spot and stem rot; common problems in a hot, humid summer.
“I treated as a precaution and I’m glad I did,” he said. “There were many reports of diseases this year in rice fields overall due to the humidity. It didn’t have much of an impact on my crop.”
Pest pressure was also low in Mathews’ fields, including few rice water weevils which are common in California rice. The weevil attacks young plants, lays eggs, and the larvae eat the roots. This year, ducks, geese, and blackbirds were Mathews’ largest ‘pest’ challenge.
The herbicides Cerano and Granite provided good weed control.
Mathews said rice prices early in the season were good, but below the highest price of about $1,000 per ton FOB milled in 2008.