Rice planting proceeds despite drought

May 8, 2015

Water uncertainties delayed planting of the California rice crop, but it finally began the last week of April, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press. The National Agricultural Statistics Service predicts 408,000 acres to be planted to rice in California in 2015.

“Planting is going full swing right now,” said Luis Espino, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) rice crop advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Colusa County. “With the water situation early on, everyone was expecting water deliveries to be a little late — the first week of May. Then it was actually delivered a little earlier than that.”

Planting is about two weeks ahead of schedule in Butte County, said Cass Mutters, a UC ANR CE rice farm advisor.

“This spring was unfortunately so dry and so warm that growers were out working their fields,” Mutters said. “As a result, the planting schedule is accelerated this year.”

Because water deliveries from the Sacramento and Feather rivers have been cut, some land that typically produces rice will be fallowed in 2015.

“It's hard to say how much, but my guess is it's going to be maybe 10 or 15 percent more than last year," Espino said. "Growers might not get surface water but might be able to pump here and there or get water from somewhere else. We'll see at the end what the actual acreage is.”

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist