The 2020 California rice harvest is well underway, and things appear to look promising for the industry. After starting out with more average conditions for planting to start the year, growers have gotten off to an early start to harvest this season compared to years past. Overall weather conditions have allowed for a strong start to the harvest, with only mild complications arising due to the wildfires.
“So far, so good,” said Jim Morris, Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission. “There have been some delays in maturity because of the smoke we’ve seen not only throughout the state but specifically in the Sacramento Valley where the vast majority of rice is grown. Fortunately, when it comes to rice, we have not seen any other impacts from the smoke other than slightly delayed maturity. That filtered sunlight, it takes a little longer for that final maturity to happen.”
Unlike some other crops that are negatively affected by smoke exposure in terms of quality, rice is only being affected by the timeline for harvest. Rice kernels are protected by a hull that is removed during the milling process, preventing smoke from having an impact on taste or quality. “There’s a possibility of some yield reductions based on the smoke, but I have not heard anything that it’s expected to be significant,” Morris explained.
The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are forecasting 510,000 acres of California rice to be harvested this year, nearly a three percent increase over 2019. Production is also expected to increase by nearly six percent from last year. Despite mild complications related to wildfire smoke all signs are pointing to a strong start for this year’s California rice harvest.
“We’re keeping an eye on some of those later maturing varieties about potential yield reductions. But I want to emphasize that, if there are any, they are not expected to be very significant,” Morris noted. “Things have gone very well, and we are anticipating a very smooth harvest. We will be done right around November 1.”
Listen to the interview below.