Researchers from the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) summed up the weedy rice issues that growers experienced in 2020. Overall, it appears that industry members are working together to help mitigate weedy rice infestations. The UCCE rice team also worked to get a more definitive understanding of the prevalence of weedy rice in California.
“We got 31 suspected samples, but out of those only six were actually confirmed to be weedy rice. We had three new sites and then we had three samples from sites that were previously infested with another biotype,” said Whitney Brim-DeForest, Rice Farm Advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento counties. “It appears that we some fields where we’re having multiple infestations in the same field.”
Some of the samples with characteristics of weedy rice are going to require further study to be sure. The new sites where weedy rice issues were discovered were in Sutter, Yuba, and San Joaquin counties. There was also some contamination of a couple of seed fields in 2020 that was discovered during the certification process. “We’re not totally sure where that’s coming from, but the California Crop Improvement Association is working with those growers and the fields weren’t approved for seed obviously,” Brim-DeForest noted.
Survey Helped Better Understand Weedy Rice Pressures
A survey was conducted over the summer looking at all the infested fields that had been found between 2016 and 2019. The study was done to get a clearer understanding of the degree to which weedy rice issues are affecting growers. Locations had previously been marked on the map even if only a few plants were found in a basin. Now through the survey, researchers have a more accurate picture of what infestation levels look like in California.
“We found that out of 11,000 acres, we really only had 2,300 acres that had any infestation still to this point. So, that was a positive,” said Brim-DeForest. “There’s been a lot of work to get rid of the weedy rice in the infested fields. So again, that’s a huge thank you to the growers and the PCAs. It helps all of us.”