On Friday, January 12th, I hosted the annual SJC and Delta Field Crops Meeting in Stockton, CA. The presentations from that meeting have now been posted to my website and are available here. Also available from my website are full reports of local research trials, including the Delta sorghum seeding rate trial and field corn variety trial.
UC statewide specialists make their research results available through the Agronomy Research and Information Center (RIC) website. At the meeting, we had a presentation that referenced the small grains variety selection tool, which was developed using trial data from across the state.
We hope you will find this information useful, and we hope you will share your feedback with us so that we may best serve your interests for research and outreach.
Happy New Year! Hopefully the holidays were a time to rest and revive. We now enter "meeting season". The new year brings several opportunities for continuing education, including UC Cooperative Extension grower meetings, the California Plant and Soil Conference, and the Rice Technical Working Group Conference. Please see below for more information. The agendas are attached at the bottom of this posting.
1. UC Cooperative Extension will host the SJC and Delta Field Crops Meeting on Friday, January 12, 2018 from 8:00am to 12:00pm. The meeting location is the Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton (2101 E.Earhart Ave., Stockton, CA 95206). Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP by calling 209-953-6100 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you email us, please indicate your first and last names, how many people you are RSVPing for, and whether any of those people are vegetarian.) Those who RSVP will receive a lunch ticket when they arrive at the meeting. Due to budgetary considerations, we cannot guarantee a lunch to those who do not RSVP. Continuing education credits for DPR (2) and CCA (3) certifications will be available.
2. UC Cooperative Extension will host five meetings for rice growers. The meeting details are as follows:
Woodland: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 1:30pm, Cracchiolos Banquet Hall, 1320 E. Main Street, Woodland
Richvale: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 8:30am, Evangelical Church, 5219 Church St., Richvale
Willows: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1:30pm, Glenn County Office of Education, 311 South Villa Avenue, Willows
Colusa: Friday, Jan. 19, 8:30am, Colusa Casino Resort, 3770 Hwy 45, Colusa
Yuba City: Friday, Jan. 19, 1:30pm, Veterans Hall, 1425 Veterans Memorial Circle, Yuba City
Time: Doors open at 8:00am, and meetings start at 8:30am at Richvale and Colusa. Doors open at 1:00pm, and meetings start at 1:30 pm at Woodland, Willows, and Yuba City. DPR and CCA continuing education credits will be offered.
3. The California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy will hold its annual Plant and Soil Conference on February 6-7 in Fresno, California. Program information and registration are available from the conference website. The keynote address will be given by Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. DPR and CCA continuing education credits will be offered.
4. The University of California is pleased to welcome the 37th Rice Technical Working Group Conference to Long Beach California from February 19-22, 2018. Registration is now open. Session topics include rice culture, pest management, and plant breeding. Continuing education (DPR) will be available. Please see the conference website for more information.
In recent years, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources has augmented research efforts on growing grain and silage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] in California. The purpose of the Delta Sorghum Seeding Rate Trial was to better understand optimal seeding rates for grain sorghum grown in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. While such information exists for Midwest sorghum production, applied information is lacking for California, and more specifically for the Delta – a unique agricultural region known for its organic soils, shallow groundwater, and cooler climate conditions. This information is important because sorghum has similar growth habits as corn and is sometimes grown as a substitute for corn because of its tolerance of drought and low-input conditions. In the United States, sorghum is used in a wide array of feedstocks for biofuels, pet foods, dairy, cattle, pork and poultry feed, and more recently as a gluten-free cereal grain for human food systems.
The trial took place during the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons on Tyler Island in Sacramento County. The 2016 trial was planted on May 20th, and the 2017 trial was planted on May 25th using a John Deere cone planter. Seed was planted approximately 2 inches deep. We used the grower's varieties, which were Eureka Seeds 3292 in 2016 and Eureka Seeds 3325W in 2017. Both varieties were white sorghum varieties, had 16,000 seeds/lb, and 85 percent germination, according to the labels. Five seeding rate treatments (5, 6, 9, 12, and 15 lbs/acre) were tested. Each plot consisted of four rows (30-inch row spacing) that were 45 feet in length in 2016 and 50 feet in length in 2017. The fields were managed similarly in both years. Site characteristics, cultural practices, and statistical procedures are described in the full report.The plots were harvested on November 14, 2016 and October 12, 2017 using an Almaco research combine, harvesting the center two rows from the four-row plots. Trial results are presented as plant establishment characteristics (Table 1), plant maturity characteristics (tables available in the full report), and yield (Figure 1). The tables and figure present mean values for the four (2016) or five (2017) replicates. Differences among treatments are indicated by different letters following the mean.
The seeding rates are expressed as plant populations in Table 1. The number of sorghum seeds/lb is highly variable across varieties. For this reason, when determining seeding rates, growers should first determine their desired plant population. A worksheet in the full report provides equations for calculating seeding rate based on desired plant populations and percent germination for the variety. Stand counts were made as the number of plants/10-foot row length approximately two weeks and one month after planting. The counts were scaled up to plants/acre. Across both years, stands generally decreased from the first count date to the second. Stand counts were lower in 2017 compared to 2016, but this did not translate into lower yields. Weeds were also counted in the month after planting (data not shown), but overall weed pressure was very low in both years.
Table 1. Plant establishment characteristics of the 2016 and 2017 UCCE Delta sorghum seeding rate trial.
While there were no statistical differences in yield across treatments in either year, the take-home message of the trial is that there appears to be no benefit to planting the highest seeding rates. In both years, the trend was for the 15-lb seeding rate to have the lowest yield. In 2016, there was a lot of variability in the data. There was a trend for the 9-lb treatment to have higher yields; however, we suspect this was due to the experimental design. In 2016, by random chance, there were several 9-lb treatment plots next to the sub-irrigation ditches, which were exterior to the experiment on both sides. For this reason, the 9-lb treatment may have been inadvertently favored with better moisture conditions. To correct for this, the experimental design was changed in 2017 in order to better control field variability. The 2017 yields were consistent across treatments, around 7000 lbs/acre. The 2017 results best illustrate how planting the higher seeding rates provided no yield benefit, yet would incur a higher seed expense. We recognize that growers will need to consider site characteristics, like weed or wireworm pest pressure, when determining optimal seeding rates; nevertheless, this research indicates that good yields can result from seeding rates of 5 or 6 lbs/acre (estimated plant populations of 80-96,000 plants/acre), and that planting higher plant populations would not only cost growers more in seed expense but could also cost them in yield.
Figure 1. Yield at 13 percent moisture of UCCE Delta sorghum seeding rate trial. There were no significant differences among treatments in 2016 (P = 0.1278) or 2017 (P = 0.2419).
In summary, it is important to study sorghum cultural practices in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, and in California at-large, because currently, most applied information comes from the Midwest. California growers need information on sorghum cultivation because sorghum may be grown as a lower-input substitute for corn. Sorghum seeding rates were studied to assist growers with determining optimum rates for the Delta environment. The results indicate that there is no yield benefit to planting seeding rates greater than 6 lbs/acre (estimated plant population greater than 96,000 plants/acre), and that planting higher rates is just added expense for the grower. Future research should investigate these plant populations on narrower row spacing. Special thanks go to growers, Steve and Gary Mello, and to UC Kearney Research and Extension Center Director, Jeff Dahlberg, for providing equipment and information for the success the trial.
UC Cooperative Extension will host the SJC and Delta Field Crops Meeting on Friday, January 12, 2018 from 8:00am to 12:00pm. The meeting location is the Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton (2101 E.Earhart Ave., Stockton, CA 95206).
The agenda is as follows:
8:00am Doors Open, Sign In, and Welcome
8:15am Regulatory Update, Tim Pelican, San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner
8:30am Sorghum Seeding Rates for Optimum Productivity, Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, UCCE, San Joaquin/Delta Counties
9:00am Alfalfa Weevil Management, Rachael Long, UCCE, Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo Counties
9:30am Lygus Management in Dry Beans, Rachael Long, UCCE, Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo Counties
10:15am California Farmers' Voices on Nitrogen Management, Jessica Rudnick, UC Davis
10:45am Managing Weeds in Agronomic Crop Rotations, Kurt Hembree, UCCE, Fresno County
11:15am Tools for Selecting Small Grain Varieties from UCCE Statewide Trials, Mark Lundy, UC Davis
12:00pm Lunch – Please RSVP
New this year, we will offer a burrito lunch. Please RSVP for the lunch by calling 209-953-6100 or by emailing email@example.com. (If you email us, please indicate your first and last names, how many people you are RSVPing for, and whether any of those people are vegetarian.) Those who RSVP will receive a lunch ticket when they arrive at the meeting. Due to budgetary considerations, we cannot guarantee a lunch to those who do not RSVP.
From 12:00-12:30pm, we will hold a focus group meeting for growers to provide input on practices that improve nitrogen management. The input will inform a survey that will assist UC Davis researchers on barriers to adoption of such practices. All are welcome to meet with the research team over lunch.
We have submitted applications for continuing education for pesticide licensing and certified crop advisors. New this year, we have also submitted an application for nitrogen management continuing education, which would help to satisfy growers' requirements by Water Coalitions. If our applications are approved, then we would be offering 1.75 DPR credits, 3.5 CCA credits, and 0.5 N management credits.
Our programs are open to all potential participants. If you require special accommodations, please contact UCCE San Joaquin County at 209-953-6100. Thank you, and hope to see you at the meeting.
The 2017 season was marked by weather extremes, including record winter rainfall and high summer temperatures. Despite those, Delta rice growers generally observed an average to above-average season. Total acreage for the Delta south of the Yolo Bypass was roughly 2900 acres. For some growers, acreage was up because they were able to get ground preparation done early, but for others, acreage was down because the ground was late to dry out. Most of the Delta acreage is in San Joaquin County, with a few hundred acres in the “tail” of Sacramento County. The acreage was entirely drill-seeded, as is typical for the Delta, and planted with M.206.
Annual rainfall (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017) for the region varied greatly by location. CIMIS stations for the south Delta reported rainfall from 16 to 20 inches, but stations in the north Delta reported 28 to 38 inches. Most of this rainfall fell in October through January. Spring rainfall lingered into the month of April, but accumulation of at least a tenth of an inch ceased by mid-April. Given the high organic matter content of many Delta soils, fields generally dried out for on-schedule planting in late-April through early-May, with few exceptions.
Cooler temperatures in the Delta, compared to the Sacramento Valley, make the Delta a challenging place to grow rice. The summer of 2017, however, brought many days over 100⁰F. This varied greatly by location, with some areas in the north Delta having approximately 10 days over 100⁰F and areas of the south Delta having 25 days over 100⁰F, according to CIMIS stations. Hot days meant warmer nights, which was a good thing for Delta rice culture. Delta rice can experience blanking due to low night-time temperatures, influenced by Delta breezes. We expect blanking to occur when the developing pollen grains are exposed to night-time temperatures at or below 55⁰ F for several hours. Across four Delta CIMIS stations, the average minimum temperature from August 1st to September 15th was 60⁰F.
Harvest was generally on-schedule and occurred from late-September to early-October. Anecdotally, yields were up and averaged over 90 cwt/acre. Growers suspect that the higher summer temperatures (including higher night-time temperatures) resulted in less blanking and higher yields.
Overall, Delta rice growers had an average to above-average year as we close out 2017. Let's hope for a similar 2018.