UC Cooperative Extension collaborates with the California Rice Experiment Station to evaluate commercial varieties and advanced breeding lines. The San Joaquin County Delta location was one of seven locations in the 2022 statewide trial. The Delta is a test site for very-early maturing varieties because it has cooler growing conditions than other rice growing regions of the state. The trial was drill-seeded on April 19th at a rate of 150 lb/acre and harvested on October 2nd. Plot size was 150 ft2, and varieties were replicated four times. Table 1 (below) shows variety results at the Delta location (advanced breeding lines omitted). Among the entries, M-206 is the most commonly planted variety in the Delta and across the state. It has good agronomic characteristics and consistent quality across different harvest moistures. Some Delta growers also plant M-105, which is a very-early variety that has yielded well in Delta trials but may be slightly more susceptible to rice blast disease than M-206. Among the newer varieties, M-210 is early maturing, blast resistant, and may be a good option for the Delta. Variety M-211 is not as well adapted to cooler environments, like the Delta, and quality appears to decrease below 18 percent harvest moisture. One of the advanced breeding lines, which is not shown in the table below, but which yielded better the M-206 in the Delta trial, will become CH-203. For a comparison of yield across all seven trial locations, please see the recent edition of the UCCE Sutter-Yuba newsletter. Special thanks go to our grower cooperators for hosting the variety trials. If you have questions about the Delta trial or about Delta rice production, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
UCCE will host two upcoming meetings for the rice industry:
1. The 2023 Rice Production Workshop will be held March 15-16 at the Lundberg Family Farms facility in Richvale (5311 Midway, Richvale, 95974). This is an in-depth workshop that covers the principles and practices of rice production in California. The workshop is directed toward folks who are new to growing rice or serving the rice industry. The program is available here. Registration is limited, so please sign up early. The registration fee covers the workshop manual and lunches both days. We have applied for DPR, CCA, and CDFA nitrogen management continuing education credits.
2. The Cover Crops in Rice Field Demonstration Day will be held March 27 from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The field day will be held at the corner of Hwy 45 and White Road, Colusa, 95932 (38.969148, -121.866552). At the field day, we will discuss the CDFA Healthy Soils Program, and attendees can walk through the cover crop trial. No registration is required. We have applied for CCA and CDFA nitrogen management continuing education credits. The agenda is attached below.
Table 1. 2022 San Joaquin County rice variety trial results.
In 2022, I estimate rice acreage in the Delta, south of the Yolo Bypass, was at least 8,000 acres. Most Delta rice is grown in San Joaquin County, but there is some acreage in Sacramento County. While Delta rice acreage is relatively small compared to that in the Sacramento Valley, it has been steadily increasing over the last several years (Table 1).
Table 1. Rice acreage and yield according to the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner's crop reports. County rice production is predominantly in the Delta region.
Given the increasing interest in rice production among Delta growers, and the differences in production practices from the Sacramento Valley, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis will be releasing a cost of production report specifically for Delta rice later this year or in early 2023. A Delta rice cost study was last produced in 2007, so updating the study was long-overdue. I want to thank all the growers who participated in a focus group to update the study.
Cool temperatures can make the Delta a challenging place to grow rice. Low night-time temperatures can cause blanking, which results in empty grains. Growers are limited to using only very-early and early maturing varieties. Most of the Delta acreage was planted with variety M-206, but some growers also planted a portion of their acreage with M-105. In 2022, we continued the UCCE Delta variety trial, which will help to identify and advance cold-tolerant varieties. The Delta trial is part of a statewide network of trials, led by UC Rice Extension Specialist, Bruce Linquist, and coordinated by Staff Researcher, Ray Stogsdill. I anticipate that the statewide results will be ready in early 2023.
This year, I worked with growers and consultants on a handful of pests. Weed management is always top-of-mind for rice growers. There are limited practices and products that can control problematic weeds, and in some circumstances, the weeds may develop resistance to the herbicides that are available. If herbicide resistance is suspected, please contact me so that we can submit weed seeds for testing. We would collect the seeds in the late summer or early fall when they have matured but have not shattered. Resistance testing is overseen by UC Weed Science Extension Specialist, Kassim Al-Khatib, and takes place in greenhouses during the winter. By the following spring, we provide the grower with information on which herbicides are still working and which are not.
I have been trapping armyworms in the Delta since 2016, in collaboration with fellow farm advisor, Luis Espino. The traps catch true armyworm moths. They were deployed on three ranches and monitored weekly. In 2022, we recovered the highest moth counts since 2017, and the peak flight occurred about one week earlier than in 2017. This is important information for management because, based on the armyworm life cycle, we know that peak worm populations occur approximately two weeks after peak moth flight. In other words, growers can make informed decisions based on the monitoring data and adapt their management to the field conditions. Trap monitoring is one part of an integrated pest management program for armyworms, which also includes scouting for feeding damage and the worms themselves. Over the years, I have observed armyworms in riparian and wetland vegetation that neighbor rice fields, so it is important to scout those areas, too.
We should continue to keep weedy rice on our radars because we have seen it in the Delta in the past. Where we have observed light infestations, it appears that keen management – including in-season rogueing, post-harvest management that includes straw chopping but not incorporation, and winter flooding – can reduce, if not eliminate the pest. These are our management tools until a herbicide is approved for spot-spraying. Growers should also pay attention to equipment sanitation – harvesting weedy rice fields last (if possible) and thoroughly cleaning out equipment after harvesting fields where weedy rice has been observed.
Finally, I will be starting new projects this winter, in collaboration with fellow farm advisor, Whitney Brim-DeForest, and graduate student, Sara Rosenberg, to evaluate winter cover cropping between rice crops. Our objectives are to evaluate carbon and nitrogen cycling and variety survivability during the cool, wet (we hope!) winter conditions. These projects are supported by the CDFA Healthy Soils Program and the CA Rice Research Board. I look forward to sharing results in the years to come.
I am grateful to work with a great team of UC colleagues on these rice projects. I am also grateful for all the growers who have collaborated with us. I wish everyone a good end to the year, and I look forward to working with you again in 2023.
- Author: Michelle Leinfelder-Miles
- Author: Mark Lundy
The Delta trial was on a Gazwell mucky clay soil, which has approximately 10 percent organic matter in the top two feet of soil. Approximately 25,000 acres in the Delta have the Gazwell classification. The 2021-22 season was characterized as being very wet from October through December, followed by very dry starting in January. An atmospheric river event dropped over six inches of rain at the end of October, according to a nearby CIMIS weather station, which delayed trial planting until December 1st. Over the course of the season, the site received approximately 10 inches of rain, and the site was not otherwise irrigated. The previous crop in the field was corn, and a pre-plant soil nitrate quick test indicated adequate nitrogen fertility at planting. The field received approximately 140 lb N/ac with in-season applications.
Under the 2021-22 conditions, the top-yielding wheat varieties (Table 1) in the Delta were UC 1961 (4.1 tons/ac; 11.2% protein), WB 9725 (4.0 tons/ac; 11.9% protein), and WB 9990 (3.8 tons/ac; 12.2% protein), and the top-yielding triticale varieties (Table 2) were UC Atrea (4.2 tons/ac; 10.6% protein), APB T470308 (4.1 tons/ac; 11.0% protein), and UC Bopak (3.9 tons/ac; 11.4% protein). The barley varieties were preferentially damaged by birds, and yields were impacted. Of what was left to be harvested, the top-yielding barley varieties (Table 3) were UC 960 (2.8 tons/ac; 8.0% protein), UC 933 (2.5 tons/ac; 8.9% protein), and Ishi (2.2 tons/ac; 7.4% protein). Please see the website for complete results.
Since environmental conditions vary from location to location and year to year, we advise making variety decisions based on aggregated data from three-year summaries. The results for the Delta best align with those from the Sacramento Valley. Thus, the Delta results are incorporated into the three-year summaries for the Sacramento Valley. The UC Davis team has developed web tools that allow us to view trial data in a more interactive way. There are two websites – one with the multi-year, multi-site summary data and another that summarizes each trial individually. We recommend using the multi-year, multi-site tool for variety decision making, and we suggest using these interactive tools on a computer, rather than a phone. Please reach out if you have questions on the trials or the web tools. Happy harvest, and good luck with your small grains crops this season!
Table 1. Delta common wheat trial results.
Table 2. Delta triticale trial results.
Table 3. Delta barley trial results. This trial had severe bird damage, and results shown are only for those varieties with sufficient yield to harvest.
As the Covid-19 pandemic persists, and as government and University recommendations maintain that we should limit social gatherings, I have come to the conclusion NOT to hold the annual Delta field meeting at the corn variety trial this year. The trial will be harvested in the next few weeks, and I anticipate having results ready and available on this blog by early November. It is regrettable not to be able to host the meeting this year because I know that seeing a trial can have a lot of meaning and impact. Let's hope that next year brings better circumstances. Thanks for your understanding, and please don't hesitate to reach out with questions.