Early Weed Control Helps Protect Yields

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Matt Huston • B.S. degree in Plant Science; M.S. degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management – UC Davis • Licensed Pest Control Adviser • Member of California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) • Has consulted for 28 years • Consults on rice, tomatoes, sunflowers, wheat, safflower, pistachios, walnuts and seed crops • Member of the California Farm Bureau Federation • Married to wife, Kari. Three daughters: English, Gretchen and Heather • Enjoys fishing, snow skiing, backpacking and vacationing with family

 

Matt Huston
Wilbur-Ellis Company
Woodland, Calif.

I grew up on a pear ranch in Placerville. During the summer months, while attending UC Davis, I worked for a company in Yuba City consulting on tree crops. After college, I landed a job at John Taylor Fertilizers in Sacramento. There were very few orchards in the area, so I quickly learned about rice and have enjoyed it ever since.

The growers in the Natomas area where I work experienced very good rice yields in 2014. Some had their best crops ever. However, there were challenges along the way. The biggest challenge in growing rice is attaining good weed control. The problem weeds in my area are watergrass, sprangletop and smallflower umbrella plant. I would say that over the last five years smallflower has been the toughest weed to control. The propanil applications do not work like they used to on the sedges. For that reason, I believe it is important to try to get the majority of my weed control done early. I also believe early weed competition will reduce yields at harvest.

One of my most successful weed control programs is Cerano followed by Granite GR. After initiating that program, there usually are very few weeds to control with the clean-up propanil and Grandstand application. For the last couple of years, some sprangletop has come through this program on a few fields. So this year, I will increase the Cerano rate where soil type permits or make a pinpoint application of Clincher where I can by air.GRANITE Herbicide from Dow AgroSciences

When deciding on a grower’s fertilizer program, I begin by taking soil samples from the field to determine which nutrients are lacking. Aqua ammonia is applied as the main nitrogen source on the majority of my fields. About two-thirds of my fields require a custom blend, which is a combination of all or some nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc. On the other fields, I use 16-20-0 or 11-52-0.

Having adequate water along with the right herbicides is very important to attain good weed control. If a grower is short of water for a field because of the drought, he probably will not plant the field as he has a chance of getting poor weed control. Fewer rice acres will be planted this year because of the drought.

I am just not sure of the numbers yet. The drought is on many growers’ minds and has added a lot of unnecessary stress. Let’s hope for a wet winter so growers will not have to wonder what fields they will be able to plant and concentrate on what they do best – growing great rice! I am proud to be a part of the California rice industry, which is always a step ahead of governmental agencies. Everyone in the industry has been proactive when it comes to protecting the environment, groundwater quality and chemical contamination of surface water. They are also helpful in trying to educate the urban population on the importance of growing rice in California.

Recap: Early Weed Control Helps Protect Yields

1. The problem weeds in my area are watergrass, sprangletop
and smallflower umbrella plant. I would say that over the last
five years smallflower has been the toughest weed to control.
2. The propanil applications do not work like they used to on the
sedges. For that reason, I believe it is important to try to get
the majority of my weed control done early.
3. I also believe that early weed competition will reduce yields
at harvest.
4. One of my most successful weed control programs is Cerano
followed by Granite GR. After initiating that program, there
usually are very few weeds to control with the clean-up propanil
and Grandstand application.
5. This year, I will increase the Cerano rate where soil type permits
or make a pinpoint application of Clincher where I can by air.