Chairman's Report - 2010




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Rice Research Board Chairman, Mike Daddow



Welcome to the 42nd annual report to the California Rice Growers. In the following pages you will read about 2010 grower-funded research essential to successful California rice farming. Steady progress continues in areas such as rice variety breeding, weed management and algae control, improving fertilizer guidelines, control of invertebrate pests, and optimizing harvest conditions. Innovative research also has been conducted to improve rough rice quality, and to find new uses for rice waste as bioplastics and nanomaterials. Another project seeks opportunities to improve water use efficiency in California rice systems.

California’s public rice breeding program is conducted and managed by scientists at the Rice Experiment Station. The program has released 43 improved public rice varieties since 1969, including the newest variety—very early M-105. Additional progress in each of the four project areas is detailed in the Rice Breeding Program section of this annual report.

Testing of promising experimental lines took place at 17 farm locations, as well as at the Rice Experiment Station, in 2010. Top-yielding advanced lines are reported in each of the three maturity classes, along with yields of standard varieties. Research continued in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to evaluate the potential for growing cold-tolerant rice varieties to prevent soil subsidence. This work and results of statewide testing is described in the Rice Variety Trials section.

Molecular markers are an important tool for identifying sources of disease resistance, cold tolerance, and enhanced grain quality. Genes that contribute significantly to yield are being isolated and characterized. This and related research is reported in Molecular Marker-Assisted Rice Improvement.

Fertilizer research in 2010 fine-tuned phosphorous management guidelines, examined greenhouse gas potential, and determined that nitrate leaching is not a big concern in California rice systems. Development of a Web-based tool for predicting early-season weed emergence also is reported in Improving Fertilizer Guidelines for California’s Changing Rice Climate.

Weed control research examines new and existing herbicides, as well as combinations and sequential applications. Research continues on continuous flood, pinpoint flood, and drill-seeded rice to find the best herbicide and management combinations for each of these systems. Studies also examined variety tolerance to several herbicides. Work on alternative stand establishment continued in a grower’s field plagued with resistant late watergrass. This research is reported in Weed Control in Rice.

Research in 2010 confirms the importance of phosphorous management in controlling algae in rice fields. Scientists also conducted field tests on commercial and experimental algaecides. This work is reported in the section Assessing Alternative Methods for Managing Algae.

Research on Rice Water Weevil (RWW) examined the susceptibility of different rice varieties to this pest and the effectiveness of different chemical controls. Insecticides for control of tadpole shrimp also were examined. Studies continued on the impacts of rice pesticides on nontarget insects. Read about this work in Protection of Rice from Invertebrate Pests.

A related study examining RWW larval distribution and damage potential confirmed that existing management guidelines for edge and levee treatments are adequate. This research is reported in Rice Water Weevil Larval Distribution and Damage Potential.

Laboratory testing on the pesticide Trebon®, under consideration for RWW control, indicates it most likely would degrade in the environment by the action of light combined with the action of soil microbes. Laboratory tests on the herbicide Cerano® also indicate that microbial activity is the primary process involved in degradation. Read about this research in Environmental Fate of Rice Pesticides.

Another project is studying how management guidelines and field moisture conditions affect rice milling quality and yield. Late season management guidelines have been developed for M-205 and M-206. This project also examined insects present in storage facilities that could potentially affect rice quality. This work is reported in Crop Management and Environmental Effects on Rice Milling Quality and Yield.

Work to improve drying efficiency and rough rice yield examined different factors affecting fissuring. Advanced imaging technology is helping pinpoint differences in how husk and bran thickness affect moisture in rough rice. This research is reported in Improving Rice Quality and Processing Efficiency.

A “shrink chart” is used at rice dryers to assess crop quality and, consequently, payment to growers. Research in 2010 showed, however, that the standard dockage figure of 2% might overestimate the amount of material other than grains in harvested rice. This work is reported in Rice Utilization and Product Development.

Research continued on rice straw in livestock rations. Five dairies helped evaluate two different types of rice straw, with dairy operators reporting generally better experiences with both types than they had previously. A second part of this research compared differences in how rice straw and wheat straw affected cattle growth. This work is reported in Dairy Feeding of Rice Hay.

Another project working to find a new end use for rice straw and hulls is studying bioplastics. Laboratory work is continuing to enhance the bacterial conversion processes necessary to make this economically feasible. Read about this research in Rice Waste Conversion to Biodegradable Plastics.

A new project is studying how to separate rice straw components such as cellulose, silica, and lignin and convert them into the raw material for value-added industrial products. This work is reported in Novel Nanomaterials and Performance Industrial Products.

Finally, another new project is investigating opportunities to conserve water and increase water use efficiency. Researchers began work on a model to predict crop growth, crop duration, water use, and productivity for different varieties and climatic zones in California rice growing areas. This important work is reported in Identifying Opportunities for Improving Water Use Efficiency in California Rice Systems.

The rice industry continues to be a cornerstone of California agriculture, and research is a big part of the reason why. Research helps us keep a step ahead— turning challenges into opportunities, finding new ways to be good stewards of our natural resources, and adding economic vitality to our region. Wishing you the best in 2011.

Mike Daddow, chairman


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