With the first commercial fields of Provisia Rice planted this season, the University of Arkansas has added a new color to the Flag the Technology line-up to identify rice tolerant to Provisia Herbicide. The Louisiana State University AgCenter has released a new hybrid rice with high quality and competitive yield potential. Arkansas Gov.
California rice farmers put water rights to work for environment
Asa Hutchison has signed a joint resolution from the state House and Senate supporting a standard of identity be developed for rice and its wild rice relatives. As a result, weeds in many cases got The Carters were part of a handful of producers who participated in the Field Forward Program and experienced Loyant herbicide before it was registered.
And the Carters As rice planting begins in the Sacramento Valley, farmers with senior water rights along the Sacramento River received final word that they will have 75 percent of their supply for the second year in a row.
Those who divert from the Feather River will have their water cut by 50 percent. Farmers on the east side of the valley will face cuts from 30 percent to 60 percent, while those who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project will get no water for a second straight year.
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At a media briefing late last week to discuss impacts of the four-year drought on rice growers, the California Rice Commission said it expects more land will be idled this year, but exactly how much won't be known until later this spring. Growers planted 23 percent less rice acreage in than in , according to the commission. Similar to last year, Colusa County farmer Don Bransford said he will need to fallow more rice ground in order to generate enough revenue to buy water on the open market to take care of his prunes and almonds, which are in the Colusa County Water District that will not be getting any water.
He grows rice in the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District that's being cut 25 percent.
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What will help, he said, is that he now has one well and is drilling a second to supply his orchards. He has not had to lay off any employees, but he noted he will hire fewer seasonal employees for his rice operation. Sutter County rice farmer Nicole Van Vleck said her overall water supply is being cut 55 percent.
With zero water from the Sutter Bypass, 50 percent from the Feather River and 75 percent from the Sacramento River, Van Vleck said she will need to rely more on groundwater to plant about what she planted last year. She noted junior water-right holders in the Sutter Bypass will have their supplies cut off starting May 1.
Even if farmers are able to plant their fields before then, there would be no water for the remainder of the season to keep the crop alive, she said, and very few people in that region have access to groundwater, the quality of which is very salty. Some water districts, particularly those that are small, have no-fallowing policies because of the economic impact to jobs and ancillary businesses in the region when rice ground is idled, Van Vleck explained.
She noted some of the water sales last year were allowed to occur because they were groundwater-substitution transfers, meaning farmers used groundwater on their crop in order to sell a portion of their surface water. But with further water cutbacks this year, transfers of that nature will be much more difficult, she added.
Water sales have gone down significantly since the early s, when transfers were in the magnitude of about a million acre-feet compared to this year's , acre-feet, Guy said. Today, more of that water is kept in the region for farming and environmental requirements. State regulations restrict how many contiguous acres can be fallowed, to protect habitat for the giant garter snake that lives and hunts in rice fields and adjacent ditches, according to the Rice Commission.
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Revenue from water sales not only offsets a farmer's loss of income from fallowing land but it also pays for programs that help salmon restoration, flood protection, water efficiency and wildlife habitat, said Lewis Bair, general manager of Reclamation District With 10 fulltime employees, Sutter County farmer Steve Butler said the prospect of selling water and fallowing ground is less appealing to him because of the impact it would have on his employees.
His 75 percent water allocation will allow him to plant about 66 percent of his rice acreage, which is what he planted last year. But for other farms, water transfers could be a valuable option, Butler said, as the income from the sales could help those farms afford new equipment, pay business expenses and allow some flexibility that they normally might not have.
With supplies to Feather River settlement contractors being cut 50 percent, Bryce Lundberg, vice president of agriculture at Lundberg Family Farms, said his farm will grow as much rice as it needs to meet customer expectations and then fallow the rest.