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CA Rice farmers consider skipping spring till
Late spring rains that have delayed planting season may prompt some rice growers to think a little more unconventionally.

Farm advisors are getting calls from farmers who are preparing to skip the typical spring till in order to get rice seeds in the ground more quickly and give the crop ample time to mature.

Skipping the spring till is a technique researchers have been studying for several years, mainly to help reduce the growth of herbicide resistant water grasses. It might also serve as a beneficial technique to fast-forward planting or cut fuel costs.

“I think a lot of people are trying it out this year,” said Chris Greer, a farm advisor in Yolo and Colusa counties. “We’ve had calls from some people who said they want to do it on 1,000 or 2,000 acres. We try to encourage them to start out with a small area to try it out first.”

The jury’s still out on the no-till technique.

In half-acre test plots Greer has found little yield difference between fields that were tilled in the spring and those that weren’t. But the farm advisor doesn’t know if those results would hold true for larger fields.

While reducing tillage may decrease some inputs, it might result in a slight increase in fertilizer costs, Greer said. So basically, it’s a balancing act.

“I think we’ll have some people who see that maybe they could work this into their system,” he said. “I don’t see anybody planting their whole ranch that way. But I could be wrong.”

Chris Johnson, a rice farmer in Willows, is considering the technique for one or two of his fields this year. If he chooses, Johnson will simply spray the weeds that are already growing in his field from the wet spring, then flood again to aerial seed the crop.

“In a sense all of this rain has flushed and irrigated the fields and now we can see quite a few weeds growing out there, so we are considering this (option) with one field,” he said.

Johnson said that this method is essentially unproven in commercial rice operations.

Because of that, Greer recommends growers first consult with their local farm advisors and pest control advisors.

“We don’t have all the answers to all the questions, but we have been working it for two years so we have a little bit of experience,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning process.”
MGR Archive 16.5.2006
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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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