“I prefer to seed where there is just enough water to cover the ground,” Rehermann said. “Too much water at seeding can cause the seed to bunch especially in the wind.”

At seeding time this spring, wind speeds on Rehermann’s operation topped about 25 miles per hour. Under the high winds, the 1-inch deep water was calm. Water at a 1.5 inch depth had whitecaps leading to seed bunching.

“I prefer to keep the water level relatively shallow until the seed sprouts and then raise the level up slowly,” Rehermann said.

The water level is then maintained through irrigation for about 30 days. A herbicide is applied at 40 to 45 days after planting if not applied at preplant. Fertilizer levels are maintained to produce the crop. The fields are usually drained 110 to 115 days after seeding, depending on the soil type and whether the field is level or has a slope.

“The decision when to pull the water is the toughest decision to make over the course of the crop year,” Rehermann said. “Factors to consider include the soil type and weather predictions. No one wants to pull the water too late and harvest the crop in the mud.”

Rehermann is a leader in the California rice industry, serving as the California Rice Commission’s (CRC) treasurer and as chair of the California Rice Industry Association. He served as the CRC’s chair from 2005-2007.

“We have a good rice industry,” Rehermann said. “We produce a product which through CRC activities have gained a brand for the Calrose we produce. Buyers want the rice quality that California growers produce.”

California is the nation’s second largest rice producer behind Arkansas.

The largest challenge for the financial viability of California rice growers is controlling production costs.

“I try to be as cost effective as I can be to hold down the production costs on my operation,” Rehermann said. “Increasing production costs is the biggest single threat we have to remain in the rice business.”

cblake@farmpress.com