Rice planting moving along despite tight water supplies

May 7, 2014

Rice planting in California is well underway and taking place more quickly than expected, reported Heather Hacking in the Oroville Mercury Register.

Despite early worries about water supplies, Cass Mutters, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Butte County, said 25 to 30 percent of rice acreage is planted; statewide about 10 to 15 percent of acreage has been planted. According to the article, rain in March delivered enough water to Lake Oroville for full water contracts to be honored.

Things could have turned out a lot worse, said Chris Greer, UCCE adviser in Sutter, Yuba, Sacramento and Placer counties.

A month ago it looked like 200,000 acres statewide would go without being planted, of a total of about 550,000 acres of rice land.

Greer told the reporter that farmers are still deeply concerned about the California water situation.

"It still worries you thinking about this winter," Greer said. "We're eking by as we can this year, but if we have another dry winter, I'm not sure we're going to be able to meet what we are delivering this year. That would be difficult."

Most rice is planted by airplane, but some farmers are experimenting with drill seeding. Drill seeding requires more labor, but results in more precise placement of seed and fertilizer in the fields.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist