California rice growers are looking forward to a return to average conditions for planting this year, after experiencing inclement weather over the past few years that created delays for growers. Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission, Jim Morris said it is welcome news for the industry.
“It’s a normal start to the planting season and that may not sound like a lot but it’s actually very significant because for the past several years we’ve had a lot of delays. We’ve had late spring rains which has hampered our ability to get the fields ready, to get the airplanes flying,” Morris noted. “Speaking with growers, they’re more often two weeks or so ahead of recent years.”
The past few years rice growers have had to wait until later in the year to get into the fields to begin planting preparations. The delayed planting of years past resulted in a shortened planting period and put a strain on some of the resources the industry relies on. “The season is not as truncated and when you’re working with a finite amount of resources like flying services, etcetera, the fact that it’s going in a more orderly fashion really helps everyone out,” Morris explained.
The warm weather that is in the forecast should provide favorable conditions to allow growers to get into the fields to level the ground before applying water and allowing aircraft to drop pregerminated seed. Planting should be wrapping up at the end of May, into early June at the latest.
Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service show that California growers are expected to plant 500,000 acres of rice this year, an increase of 2,000 acres over the previous year. “We’ll see how it plays out; 500,000 is a good solid crop and what we would expect. We think that there is a possibility that there actually could be additional acres to that, we’ll just wait and see,” said Morris.