Manage Resistance, Practice Stewardship


Barry Morrell

Colusa County Farm Supply
Williams, California

I was born and raised in Kelseyville in Lake County, California, where my parents were farmers and ranchers. After graduating from Chico State, I worked as a seed salesman for a year, then moved to another company where I was a Pest Control Adviser and field checker. A year later, I came to Colusa County Farm Supply and have been here for 26 years. Rice is one of our biggest crops in the Sacramento Valley. CCFS takes care of 60,000 to 80,000 rice acres, although it will be a little down this year. In 2020, yields were more than above average, but the weeds were extremely tough and getting tougher.

Resistance Management
My rice area includes Willows to Woodland and Williams to Sutter. Every area’s weed problems are a little different. Certain areas up north have outrageous watergrass. Down south, the grass gets bad again. To the east, we have big problems with sedge. When I sit down with my growers to talk about herbicide programs, Plan A is all about resistance management. There is a lot of resistance in watergrass and some in sedge, so we rotate chemistries as much as possible to offset it.

RebelEX® CA herbicide is a broad spectrum material for grasses and aquatics. It’s a pre-mix of Clincher® CA and Granite® SC and works really well where there is no sprangletop or watergrass resistance. We typically follow a RebelEX CA application with propanil herbicide or a combination of propanil and Shark herbicides to pick up smallflower umbrella sedge.

Stewardship Is Paramount
The area north of Sacramento is very diversified. Farmers grow everything, including tomatoes, vine seeds, almonds, walnuts and rice. In some places, the crops are next to each other. Both PCAs and growers work together to be good stewards where we have rice fields in sensitive crop areas. It’s definitely a plus to use granular herbicides when we can.We apply Granite® GR herbicide in sensitive crop areas because we can fly it on. It helps with watergrass control where we don’t have resistance. We also may use Granite GR behind a field treated with Bolero herbicide or combine it with another material to enhance the weed control program. Granite GR does a nice job on roughseed bulrush and ducksalad.

A Team Approach
I keep detailed field notes on my computer and in a written journal. Before harvest, I review them to determine what worked well or what we could do better. This information helps me come up with a plan for next year. Our full-service company covers every aspect of rice production. All the PCAs work together and consider us consultants who are doing the best job we can for our growers. We are a team, and Jim Cook — the director of research and technology at CCFS — is our quarterback. He tests every single product and provides an honest opinion of how each one performs.

The biggest challenge the California rice industry faces going into 2021 is the water shortage. We will have to adjust our weed control programs a bit, but there won’t be any shortage of herbicides. No other group of people are tougher or more resilient than farmers. They will figure out a way to do what they must do, and we will help them get through it.

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