The season got off to a rough start earlier in the year, however, it appears that growers were able to overcome the obstacles for a successful rice harvest. Many growers encountered significant setbacks during the planting season because of the abnormal weather events that came through California during the spring.
“All things considered, harvest went pretty well,” said Jim Morris, Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission. “We had delays because of wet weather going into the planting season and when you delay the planting of the crop it challenges you on the back end. The farther you get into November when you’re harvesting rice there’s a lot of risks involved. So, all things being equal, it was a pretty good year.”
The equipment used during the planting season allowed growers to cover a substantial amount of ground in a limited timeframe. Some earlier concerns regarding a complicated harvest period caused by a condensed planting season fortunately never came to fruition. “There was a lot of delays that occurred because of the moisture level in the rice just wasn’t right. So, wait, wait, wait, and then hurry up and go. But fortunately, when the dust settled it was a pretty good year,” said Morris.
This year’s rice harvest did not produce yields that were as robust as they have been in previous years, but Morris noted that prices appear to be strong. Even with an expedited planting season, acreage for 2019 was pretty standard compared to other years. More than 2,500 rice growers and handlers in California help the industry contribute approximately $5 billion to the state’s economy on a yearly basis, supporting more than 25,000 jobs.
“We had about a half-million acres of rice, we think the yields are pretty consistent, maybe down fractionally ten percent or less when taken in total for the Sacramento Valley,” Morris noted. “Factoring it all in, it was a pretty good year considering the challenges that were out there.”