Growing up, I was surrounded by agriculture. My grandparents had a small rice farm near Willows, California, and my dad, Wally Cramer, was a pest control adviser (PCA) for more than 40 years. I became interested in following in his footsteps while attending Chico State and went to work for a retailer right out of college. Today, I have been with Crop Production Services almost 11 years.
After the 2017 season wrapped up, growers I talked to said their rice yields were down 10 to 15 percent. A lot of the rice lodged this year as well either when farmers started draining their fields or before. It’s my opinion that late planting followed by a heat wave contributed to this situation. If we are faced with late planting in 2018 as we were in 2017, I recommend planting more very early varieties, such as M-105 and M-106, and cutting back on the normal nitrogen applications.
Our primary weed problem is resistant watergrass. If it is the biggest issue in the field, I apply clomazone followed by Granite GR because my growers prefer to apply herbicides by air if possible. We clean up with propanil and Grandstand.
Public enemy No. 2 in my area is herbicide-resistant smallflower umbrella sedge, particularly in Glenn and Butte counties. My most reliable herbicide program for this pest consists of Bolero applied at two-leaf rice followed by Granite GR at 3½-leaf rice. The University of California Cooperative Extension Rice Weeds Program tests seed samples submitted by farmers and PCAs and runs bioassays with all herbicides that might have some activity on that weed species. UCCE sends reports of its findings in February or March.
Rice farmers in my area also have been affected by armyworm. Growers started noticing them in 2016 about the first of July. We began applying pyrethroids and Bts, which didn’t control them. Then we received a Section 18 for Intrepid insecticide, and it worked great. This year, armyworms appeared in the middle of June. We applied another insecticide until we received the Section 18 for Intrepid.
In preparation for the 2018 season, we are asking growers to submit their loss percentage from armyworm — not their actual yield — to their farm advisers or Roberta Firoved at the California Rice Commission. This will help get the Section 18 in place in a timely manner so farmers aren’t waiting around for two or three weeks to spray their fields and losing up to 25 percent yield.
In making plans for next year, we are hoping for sufficient rainfall this winter and for the price of rice to keep going in the right direction. These two factors will play a big role toward our rice farmers’ success.