Improved Water Outlook For CA Rice

GRANITE Herbicide from Dow AgroSciencesI was raised in Yuba County on a walnut and prune ranch, so a career in agriculture was a natural fit. I’ve spent the past 16 seasons as research manager and Pest Control Adviser at Butte County Rice Growers Association. My team and I manage the John Nichols Memorial Research Farm – a BUCRA-owned, 50-acre rice testing facility dedicated to John who originally conducted work at the site. We help develop data for rice product registrations and sales support with all the basic manufacturers. In addition, we use the site to demonstrate products for growers and to educate PCAs.

2015 was a good season for rice growers with near-record yields for our area and for the state. Careful ground preparation and early water management will be important in fields that were fallow last year as they are susceptible to silting and seed drift. The water situation is looking much better in the North State after getting the “Miracle March” precipitation that California was hoping for. Reservoir levels have recovered nicely, and most growers in our area are expecting full allocation. We need to make maximum use of storage and not let too much water run out to sea.

Resistant grass and sedge are probably our biggest weed challenges. We are seeing more fields with populations of propanil- resistant smallflower, which, in some fields, has been shifting use to Bolero and Shark H2O for control. We are beginning to notice some sprangletop surviving our Cerano applications as well.

Good water management is an integral part of a successful weed-management program in California rice culture, not only for its suppressive qualities but also to get maximum benefit from our “into the water” herbicides. If water is short, Granite GR is a good option, since it allows growers to apply it into the flood without having to drain. In many fields, one of my go-to foundation programs, when it fits, is Cerano followed by Granite GR.

Most irrigation districts have instituted a no-spill mandate through the drought. Continuous flood has been the preferred strategy for weed control and to minimize fertilizer loss while
conserving water.

Planting in our area typically starts the last week of April. If the good weather holds out, growers will be working ground and planning fertilizer and pest control programs for the growing season. Rice prices have softened, so it’s more important than ever that growers have a solid fertility and pest management plan in place to help maximize yields.
As a PCA in California rice, I’m inspired by how growers and industry have come together to produce some of the best quality, highest yielding rice in the world. Many things have to come together to make this happen from growers and handlers to the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, which provides our varieties. Despite the current economic conditions, I have no doubt that California rice has a bright future ahead.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 3.03.02 PMJoe Desmond
Butte County Rice Growers Association (BUCRA)
Richvale, Calif.

  • B.S., Agribusiness, Chico State University
  • Research manager at Butte County Rice Growers
  • Association (BUCRA)
  • Licensed Pest Control Adviser
  • Certified Crop Adviser
  • Adviser for rice, walnuts, prunes, corn, wheat and alfalfa
  • Past chairman of the Integrated Agribusiness
  • Professionals Technical Link Group
  • Member of California Pest Control Advisers Association; Member of CAPCA Rice Team
  • Son D.J. is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University.
  • Enjoys farming, hunting and golf