The rice planting season got off to a late start this year after late spring rains came through many areas of California. However, growers were able to compensate for the delay as the weather began to dry out and warm up. The expectation for rice acreage is similar to the past few years, at about 500,000 acres.
“May is a busy month as it is every year in California rice country and once again, we’ve had this for several years now, there was a bit of a delay upfront because of spring rains,” said Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission Jim Morris. “Fortunately, we’re gaining momentum every day. There’s a lot of progress being made, and I think for the vast majority of the rice-growing region there should not be an issue getting rice in in time.”
Wet conditions in rice fields prevented many growers from leveling the ground in preparation for seeding, causing some concern about how condensed the harvest season will be later in the year. “Fortunately, things have smoothed out and we’re on a much better track. This is highly sophisticated equipment so they can cover a lot of ground in a hurry,” said Morris. “If things are condensed too much then you may have harvest occurring in many fields at the same time, and then you have the issue of infrastructure being a little more taxed. But I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year.”
As rice planting gets back on schedule, the majority of the crop is expected to be planted by June 1. “That’s an important date to achieve because rice planted after June 1 raises the risk of complications during harvest and the later you go in the season with harvest, fall rains could slow the harvest process and also lower yield,” said Morris.