AgFax Rice Review: California Acres to Drop Again; Philippine Production to Rise

Markets/Trade

  • Oryza.com reports that the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture plans to institute a new High Yielding Technology Adoption program to boost the country’s rice production. The program will focus on providing farmers with high quality, high-yielding seed as well as fertilizers and soil ameliorants to plant 560,000 hectares of rice, focusing predominantly on areas with good irrigation facilities.
  • Oryza.com reports that experts are urging the Vietnamese government to alter it’s rice first policy as it is harmful to farmers, the rice industry, and the environment. Growing 3 rice crops a year has increased the country’s output, but quality has diminished while farmers are burdened with the extra input costs with scant returns. Soil fertility is also suffering as 3 yearly crops drain nutrients faster than they can be replenished, while dams and dykes used to increase arable land area within the Mekong River Delta have blocked the spread of nutrients from upriver while allowing greater salinity to flow in from the sea.

Production

  • Oryza.com reports that most California rice growers will choose to plant this year rather than sell water. While water allocations for the season have yet to be determined it is expected there will be little water for districts to sell, and many farmers see planting this season as a better alternative to selling water despite more than generous prices. The current forecast is for California to plant 408,000 hectares of rice, down from 420,000 last season.
  • Phy.org reports that researchers have demonstrated that transplanting protein receptors from other plants into rice can bolster rice’s natural immune system to increase disease resistance and potentially decrease injury to infected plants.
  • Tim Johnson, President and CEO of the California Rice Commission, writes for the CalRice.org blog providing a little perspective on the water situation in California for those caught up in the hype that agriculture is the biggest threat during the drought. Johnson notes that the claim that agriculture uses 80% of the state’s water is misleading as that number only accounts for “the water we hold behind dams, put in canals and pump across the state.” Johnson also notes that while the governor recently mandated a 25% reduction in urban water use, farmers have already been cutting back over the last 3 years, with rice farmers alone leaving 23% of their acres unplanted last year due to water shortages. This year Johnson estimates 30-35% of rice acres will go unplanted.
  • Edward Oritz reports for The Sacramento Bee that the effects of the ongoing drought, while tough on rice farmers, are more devastating for contractors and other elements of the industry chain that suffer from decreased business due to the reduced rice acreage. Employees are laid off because there’s not enough work, crop dusters and truckers may have to sell off machinery, and millers and suppliers face reduced revenues with no means of recouping losses. “The farmer can eliminate his employees and get rid of equipment to insulate himself, but the employees and other businesses are just stuck facing a much lower income.”
  • California rice grower Peter Rystrom in Butte County comments on work to prepare fields for planting in this short video from CalRice.org.


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