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California rice growers fighting West Nile virus
With more than a half million acres of lush rice fields in Northern California, rice farmers and the California Rice Commission began preparing several years ago for the arrival of West Nile virus.
Mosquito problems in rice growing regions are well known, but growers realized the threat posed by these newly infected insects is particularly serious.

Historically, sections of the Sacramento Valley have been covered with wetlands and marshes the perfect habitat for mosquitoes. Records of the insect's abundance in the Valley go back to the Gold Rush era. Of concern now, however, is the introduction of a new pathogen to humans, horses and birds that is transmitted by feeding mosquitoes.

"We recognize that we grow a unique aquatic crop," said Butte County rice farmer Keith Davis. "Because of the water there are a lot of mosquitoes involved.

"As we watched the virus spread across the country, we knew it would arrive here and we felt there needed to be a plan to deal with this threat in rice country," Davis said. "We have formed closer vector control partnerships to help reduce mosquito populations and we have provided funding to increase the number of mosquito fish placed in rice fields."

He also cited efforts to get state and federal officials to provide additional funding for vector control districts throughout the state, especially in those California counties where more than 520,000 acres of rice is grown Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba counties.

A member of the California Rice Commission board of directors, Davis is chairman of the commission's Industry Affairs Committee, which deals with issues of statewide significance.

"There are a lot of issues flying into that committee," Davis said. "State regulations, genetically modified organisms, chemicals, along with air, water and pesticides. But West Nile virus immediately became a priority for us as the threat became better understood.

The California Rice Commission also is helping with development of a biopesticide for use on rice drains, ditches and canal banks. The product under consideration appears to have no environmental impacts and shows excellent control on mosquitoes, Davis said.

To help rice farmers minimize mosquito breeding in their fields, the California Rice Commission developed a series of best management practices that it recommends for growers.

"It would've been easier for us to stand on the sidelines and not get actively involved in helping manage this problem," Davis said. "We believe, however, there's good reason to get involved and share our knowledge of effective mosquito control measures."
MGR Archive 21.8.2005
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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