Spring Time Can Be a Real Crunch

Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2011

Springtime, Planting Season, Time to Seed; whatever name you chose – it is crunch time on our rice farm. The window for planting rice in California begins about April 15th and ends about June 1st. However the optimal time to plant rice is from May 1st to May 15th – a very short window to get our crops planted. Fortunately the abundant winter rain has ended – allowing the opportunity to cultivate the rice fields. The rice farmer’s goal is to get the land opened up, dry, and worked into a smooth, flat, and consistent seed bed. A smooth and flat rice seed bed improves rice health, helps with weed control, and uses less water. It can take anywhere from 3 or 4 cultivations to 6 or 7 cultivations to prepare the type of seed bed that I like for rice. Some of the variables include working in wet clay, stormy weather during planting season, strong drying winds which cause clay clods to get rock hard, and certain vegetation which doesn’t decompose readily. After the field work is complete, the rice fields are ready to flood and seed. We generally plant soaked seed (soaked in water) into flooded fields – using agricultural aircraft. It’s a great feeling when the field work is done and it’s time to flood the fields. It is a signal that crunch time is over and growing time begins.

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