Friday, April 12, 2024

An Eye on Water and Weed Control

Jason Bowen
Jason Bowen

Jason Bowen
Pest Control Adviser (PCA), Colusa County Farm Supply
Williams, Calif.

  • B.S. in Plant Science – Chico State University
  • Licensed Pest Control Adviser
  • Member of California Association of Pest Control Advisers
  • Vice chairman of the California Rice Research Board
  • Member of the Maxwell Volunteer Fire Department
  • Member of the California Farm Bureau Federation
  • Consulted for 15 years. Consults on rice, almonds, walnuts, alfalfa and wheat
  • Married to wife, Jennifer. Two sons: Lucas, 6; and Rhett, 4
  • Enjoys hunting, snowmobiling, water sports, coaching kids’ sports and spending time with family

Growing up in Colusa County, I started working for local farmers during planting and harvest seasons while in high school. After graduating college, I became a fulltime PCA consulting on rice. I have been with the Colusa County Farm Supply for five years.

California is in the midst of an unprecedented drought. Going into the 2015 season, there was much uncertainty about water allocations, followed by how much water would be transfered from rice farmers to farmers with permanent crops once allocations were announced. Water management was critical with a zero-spill policy in most districts. With that said, from planting through harvest, Mother Nature cooperated all the way through with a warm spring, moderate summer and mellow fall. Yields were very good to excellent. Although milling quality was good, it was somewhat lower than the past few years. Looking to 2016, the biggest uncertainty is what the winter will bring as far as precipitation, followed again by how much water will be allocated to farmers.

One of the challenges in growing rice is obtaining weed control on an economical level. In the past few years, propanil-resistant smallflower umbrella sedge and ricefield bulrush, as well as clomazone-resistant sprangletop and watergrass have challenged California rice farmers. It is critical to get an early herbicide down for these resistant weeds to give the rice a chance to compete.

GRANITE Herbicide from Dow AgroSciences

One of my successful weed control programs is Bolero UltraMax or Abolish followed by Regiment, Granite SC or Granite GR. As long as water management is handled correctly, this program has been very successful at taking out a large spectrum of the weeds early. We clean up with a propanil/Grandstand CA application or a foliar Shark H20 application if resistant sedges make it through the early base program. Bolero was a good fit in a lot of fields this year since it has a 30-day water hold, and most water districts were requiring a zero-spill policy from rice fields. Going into 2016, this program will be used again extensively where it fits into chemical rotations to avoid creating more resistance issues.

Soil fertility is essential to obtaining maximum yields on each and every field, and soil sampling determines what fertility program will best fit. I also take into account what the grower did with the straw from the previous year: chopped and incorporated into the soil, baled or burned. Aqua ammonia is applied preplant; zinc and sulfur are applied where needed. A delayed phosphorus/potassium blend is applied to most fields once the rice is out of the water to help reduce algae plumes.

California rice farmers are a special breed of people. They are great stewards of the land who also create environmentally friendly habitat for migrating waterfowl and other species of birds. I am proud to be a part of this industry not only as a consultant but also as a farmer who instills the love of agriculture to my wife and two sons every chance I get.


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