Thursday, July 18, 2024

No. 1 Goal: Growing Premium Quality Rice

Drew Dirks
Drew Dirks

Drew Dirks
Maxwell, Calif.

I grew up the son of a rice farmer in the Sacramento Valley and, at a young age, developed a love for spending time in the field. From planting to harvest, there were always new challenges to be addressed. While attending Chico State University, I had an opportunity to work on researching new ways to use existing chemistries for weed control in rice. This experience ultimately led to the position I hold today as a PCA at AgriSource.

Overall, 2014 was a good year for stand establishment, and base herbicide applications went according to plan. Controlling resistant weed populations is challenging and must be continually addressed as we are limited in available chemistries and farm rice in a monoculture environment with few options for rotation. As 2015 gets underway, many growers are preparing ground and anticipating water allocations similar to what we had last year. While the hopes of receiving more water are dwindling, we know how to work with what we have and will make the best of it. I recently read an article titled “A Tale of Four Droughts,” which I thought was a great summarization of our state’s current situation. However, I don’t want to get sidetracked on political issues.

GRANITE Herbicide from Dow AgroSciencesIn dealing with resistant weed populations, we will be working closely with our research department. Our focus is looking at new chemistries coming in the future as well as application timing of current herbicides to help combat ever-changing weed populations. We will continue to collect seed samples of weed escapes and send them to university personnel who can determine what populations are truly resistant to certain chemistries and which ones may have been missed due to water depth, timing and other outside factors. Another trend that needs to be considered when planning herbicide programs is the establishment of orchards near rice fields. Where drift is a concern, using granular formulations of herbicides is a much more favorable option.

When it comes to fertility management, the main factor to consider is whether the straw from the previous crop was bailed and removed or incorporated. If the straw has been removed, nutrient deficiencies can easily be corrected by applying a pre-plant fertilizer that is high in potassium. In the future, we will be providing nutrient management plans that will give us an opportunity to look closely at our programs and modify them to be as efficient as possible. In California, we have the climate and resources needed to grow premium quality rice. We also have some of the most talented individuals working on all aspects of California rice production. It is important that we continue this tradition as the success of our growers is imperative to the success of our communities as a whole.

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