California Rice: Overall Off to a Good Start

Photo: University of California Cooperative Extension

I looked at the USDA planting progress for rice in 2018. What the data show is that 50% of the crop was planted by May 14. That is 5 days earlier than last year and a couple days later than average. The delay was due to significant rains in early and mid-April which delayed groundwork. As I write (in the first full week of June) there are still some fields being planted – though not many.

Having the benefit of driving around the valley for various research projects I am involved with, it seems that the west side of the valley was able to plant much earlier than the east side of the valley. So the east side of the valley may be further behind than the statewide data suggest.

Last year, the late planting date was combined with a very warm summer; which, I feel, resulted in lower yields than many growers were used to.

In general, there is a slight yield decline with delays in planting date. However, there are many examples in the data where we have had high statewide yields when 50% of the acreage has been planted by May 15. For example, in 2016 the 50% planting progress date was May 15 and that year was the second highest statewide yield average on record (88.4 sacks/ac).

So, on a statewide basis, I think this year is off to a good start, although I do have some concerns about the late planting dates I have been seeing on the east side.

I think the outcome in terms of yields will depend on summer temperatures and if we have a favorable fall for a timely harvest.


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