Tractors are working ground and the first airplanes are flying seed in the Sacramento Valley, marking the first normal start to planting season in several years in California.
“Weather has been much more cooperative,” said grower Sean Doherty in Yolo County. “The cool and dry conditions have allowed growers to get a good head start. We are now waiting for Mother Nature to dictate planting, instead of the calendar. When we consistently have warmer weather later this month and into May, more airplanes will be seeding fields.”
Rice planting will continue in California through May.
More favorable weather for planting will likely mean more rice acres planted in California, although it is too early for statewide acreage specifics.
Governor Gavin Newsom instituted a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rice farms and mills are part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce and their work is ongoing.
Farms and mills have instituted several steps to protect workers from COVID-19, including employee training, maintaining a six-foot distance whenever possible, washing hands or using hand sanitizer at a station, regularly wiping down equipment, and having sick employees not come to work.
Rice is grown on about a half-million acres in California, with the vast majority of the crop farmed in the Sacramento Valley.