Tools for Successful Rice Production

Kevin Emanuel

Kevin Emanuel
Butte County Rice Growers Association (BUCRA)
Richvale, California

I grew up in a farming community, worked in ag all through high school and got into the Pest Control Adviser program during college. Today, I am a crop adviser for the Butte County Rice Growers Association.

Our rice crop got a late start in 2019 because of May rains. Where rice had not yet been planted, the moisture gave weeds a head start and prevented farmers from working the fields, so they had to switch to programs that can result in decreased yields. For example, some fields were shotgunned in, using urea instead of aqua and spoon fed with ammonium sulfate through the season.

The improved, shorter season varieties helped with the late plant dates, but yields were down 4 to 5 sacks compared to previous years. In early planted fields, the rain actually helped maintain water depth, so the herbicides were more efficient.

Grass and Sedge Control
The main rice weeds in our area are watergrass, sprangletop, smallflower umbrella plant and bulrush — grasses and sedges. Those are the “big four.” In our area, a lot of acres have gone to nut crops, which are susceptible to some of our rice herbicides.

Consequently, we have aerial buffer zones — some as large as two miles — to contend with, especially with liquid herbicides. We have to know exactly where a field is and be cognizant of wind direction. Although aerial application is preferred because an airplane can cover a lot of ground, certain herbicides require the use of a ground rig if you are not in an air zone. Within the aerial buffer zones, many farmers have gone back to granular herbicides to avoid drifting onto trees. If a field is within the aerial buffer zone, we have to apply herbicides with a ground rig. But even with ground rigs, we have regulations to follow.

Granite® GR herbicide has a good fit where a buffer zone prevents you from flying on Granite® SC herbicide. Granite GR helps control watergrass and will take out some of the sedge populations. It definitely fits where you can hold the water. I go over the herbicide program with my growers before starting the season to make them aware of the water depth they need to maintain.

We do have a fly zone for Clincher® CA herbicide that allows aerial applications of this material to help control watergrass and sprangletop. RebelEX® CA herbicide — a premix of Clincher CA and Granite SC — will also be available in 2020. We have used the two products together for a few years, but RebelEX CA will make it easier on the applicators. Clincher works well on sprangletop, and Granite SC helps control grass and picks up the broadleaves.

Armyworm Monitoring Program Online Updates
In 2019, we had less armyworm pressure than we did in 2016 and 2017, but we still treated some fields with Intrepid 2F® insecticide. The University of California Cooperative Extension, along with Corteva Agriscience, operates an armyworm monitoring program using pheromone traps. UCCE Rice Farm Advisor Luis Espino posts moth counts on a website (http://rice.ucanr.edu/armyworm_traps/), so you can look them up to get an idea of when they will peak. The earlier you spray the worms, the better off you are.

As we enter a new season, the rice price is up a bit. We just need miracle March rains to give us our complete water allocation, but our farmers are always optimistic.

Kevin Emanuel

  • A.S., Natural Resources, Butte College; B.S., Agricultural
    Science, Chico State University.
  • Crop Adviser with Butte County Rice Growers Association. Consults on rice, walnuts, almonds and habitat food plots.
  • Licensed Pest Control Adviser and Certified Crop Adviser.
  • Board member of the Nor-Cal chapter of the California
  • Association of Pest Control Advisers. Nor-Cal CAPCA
    scholarship chairman.
  • Wife of 30 years, Jill. Daughter, Erin, a 2L at University of
  • Wyoming Law School. Son, Jack, an All-American Cross
    Country, Construction Management, Chico State University.
  • Enjoys family, hunting and fishing.