The 2020 rice harvest has wrapped up in California and reports indicate a good year for the industry. The season kicked off a bit earlier than previous years, bringing planting times back to more normal conditions. Mother nature also mostly cooperated during the growing season and into harvest. Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission, Jim Morris said that harvest has wrapped up and things look positive.
“Overall, a good year for quality and yield. We have a great climate in California, but it’s not perfect. We did benefit from an early start and also no rain during harvest, but there were a few challenges,” Morris explained. “Towards the end on some of the later-planted rice, there was a bit of the loss in production from what they had seen earlier in the season. But again, taken in totality, good yields, and good quality.”
Some of the challenges might have stemmed from the heatwave in mid-August, or from complications related to smoke impacting sunlight. Despite the few mild issues for some growers, Morris said that overall the 2020 rice harvest has been a successful one. “The USDA estimate for production is 4.5 billion pounds in California and that is up from 4.2 billion pounds,” Morris noted.
SHIFTING FOCUS TO PROVIDE WILDLIFE HABITAT
With the rice harvest completed, producers will be working to address the rice straw that is left in the field. Growers will flood fields to address the rice straw which will provide habitat for nearly 230 wildlife species. Millions of waterbirds get more than half of their diet in the Fall and Winter from California rice fields.
“Now we have the excitement of the shallow flooding of rice fields, just a few inches of water going in there. It times perfectly with the Pacific Flyway migration including seven to ten million ducks and geese in the Sacramento Valley,” said Morris. “So there is a lot of activity now and we’re really pleased to be able to provide that wildlife habitat.”