ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

Teamwork to benefit California rice growers



Cooperative Extension rice and wild rice advisor Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC Davis plant scientist Kassim Al-Khatib and CE rice farming systems advisor Luis Espino work together to serve the California rice industry. They are in constant communication with one another and have collaborated on numerous weed and pest management solutions for rice growers. 

These scientists value their collaboration for the idea-sharing, fun, support and outreach it affords. “The benefit of working together is having the resources of campus as well as the resources of the advisors in the field,” said Brim-DeForest. She added, “It’s been a very welcoming group. As a new academic I was immediately brought into the fold.” She also values being able to mentor graduate students through working with AES faculty.
“It's an environment that's conducive to expressing your opinions and not being criticized,” Espino commented. “We don’t have a lot of glitches and problems, and it’s a lot of fun when we get together and discuss issues.”
The team’s work on weedy rice is one success story. “We collaborate on the outreach to educate growers about weedy rice, ways to manage it, and what risk it presents to the industry,” Espino said. “The rice industry is very well-aware now of the risk of weedy rice and changed their requirements for planting. We found that using non-certified seed was the main way weedy rice was spreading; now all rice in California has to be planted with certified seed.”
Another successful project involves screening for herbicide resistance. “The growers bring seed samples from whatever weeds they cannot control, and we test them for resistance,” said Al-Khatib. “We provide a report before the next season on what resistance they have, what things can work, what things cannot work, what things they need to avoid, and we even send them a picture of their weeds after we have done the treatments.”

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Watch a short video about the collaboration

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The UC rice team after seeding a variety trial. Left to right: Luis Espino, UCCE Butte County, Whitney Brim DeForest, UCCE Sutter-Yuba County; Ray Stogsdill, UC Davis Staff Research Associate; Cass Mutters, UCCE Butte County retired; and Bruce Linquist, UC Davis Rice Specialist



In recent years, weedy rice has increased its distribution across California rice fields. The UC rice team is conducting research and outreach to find ways to manage and reduce the infestations

The rice team stresses the importance of networking to find potential collaborators and share ideas. “Get involved with groups and reach out to folks on campus if you don’t know people,” said Brim De-Forest.
For Al-Khatib, getting involved is essential. “There are a lot of people on campus who love to work with people in the field. They are on the front line and know what the issues are, and they bring issues to campus that we need to resolve,” he said.
Espino acknowledged that it can be challenging to network if you are located far from a campus, but it is important. “You have to spend the time and travel to meet people,” he advised.
“There's nothing better than meeting somebody face to face and talking. You realize there might be some interests that you have in common and maybe you can collaborate in some form,” he said. “After a while you end up taking the lead on the projects and then you're the one people come to, to see what can be done.”
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