• By Vicky Boyd,
The California Rice Research Foundation recently honored Dr. Kent McKenzie with its annual California Rice Industry Award for his 32 years of service to the state’s rice producers.
In making the presentation, foundation board member Aaron Scheidel pointed out that McKenzie’s middle name is the same as his last name – they’re first cousins. McKenzie also marked the 58th leader who has been recognized with the award during the annual Rice Field Day at the Rice Experiment Station near Biggs.
McKenzie was feeling particularly festive as witnessed by the plaid kilt he wore. But those aren’t just plaids. They were a McKenzie plaid. The kilt was in keeping with a ceremony, complete with a bag piper playing Amazing Grace, to honor those rice producers who had passed away during the past two years.
While listing McKenzie’s numerous accomplishments over his 32 years at the station, Scheidel also noted, “Apparently he can wear other things other than just a lot of hats.”
Decades of industry service
McKenzie obtained a bachelor of science from Willamette College in Salem, Oregon, where he met his wife, Kathryn. He obtained a master’s degree and doctorate at the University of California, Davis.
McKenzie spent about a year at the University of Arkansas Rice Research and Experiment Station in Stuttgart before moving to the Louisiana State University AgCenter rice station in Crowley. He spent eight years there before joining the California Rice Experiment Station as a short-grain breeder.
With the passing of station Director Marlin Brandon, McKenzie applied for the director’s position and was named to the post by the foundation board, which operates the station.
Among his more recent accomplishments is the discovery of the Roxy trait, which imparts tolerance to oxyfluorfen herbicide. The Roxy Rice Production System, which uses propriety formulations being developed by Albaugh LLC, is expected to be commercially available in California for the 2023 season.
In receiving the award, McKenzie said, “I’ve been very blessed. Thanks especially to the ‘real’ Dr. McKenzie, Kathryn, my first lady of rice. It’s been a very good investment for me and my family. I hope it’s been good for you.”
Kathryn McKenzie was a veterinarian before she retired.