|Chairman's Report - 76
Rice Research Board Chairman, James Leathers
In 1969, California rice growers voted overwhelmingly for the Rice Research
Program. Thirty-eight individuals have served on the Board so far - without
pay - creating and conducting a remarkably productive research program.
Within two years the program began to pay dividends in increased annual rice
income far in excess of the average of $1.27 per acre that the program has
cost per year.
This report gives a complete seven-year overview of the total achievements of the program.
Insect control has so far earned us nearly $9 million - twice the cost of the TOTAL program. Control of the water weevil is here; progress has been made toward control of the midge larvae.
Fertilization progress, by solving the problem of crop rotation, has added at least $14 million to rice income in the Sacramento Valley. The control of riceland rotation problems will be of special value when drought compels us to grow other crops on some rice lands. Zinc treatment of the "alkali" problem soils has given total savings of more than $2 million so far. Projected mounting fertilizer prices will compound the savings found in new fertilization efficiency made possible through soil and plant tissue analysis.
New rice varieties, given top priority in our research, are now available and have proved to outyield old varieties by 10 to 17%. Any one of six new varieties, if used on only one-third of recent acreage, can increase returns by nearly $5 million a year. A long-grain rice developed for California conditions has had poor marketing acceptance.
Crop residue management looms larger in importance in the face of pressure for reduced field burning. Research has reduced atmospheric emissions to one-half to one-tenth. Work continues on use of rice straw for feed or fuel. Our long-term interest in the environment is creating knowledge vital to our continued operation.
Weed control has made substantial advances but is hampered by tightening governmental restrictions that slow our drive to make available better and cheaper herbicides. Even so, Hydrothol 191 is registered for American pondweed control, and UC scientists have screened several hundred new compounds, two of which will soon be available to us for commercial use. Improved application equipment and techniques have brought MCPA back to a banned area and have saved propanil for continued use south of Interstate 80.
Water management has improved steadily with new information. Rice can be produced with only 10% more water than a field of fescue grass uses in the same growing season. Shallow-water culture early in the season gives highest yields, especially with the new short varieties. New knowledge of the fate of chemicals in the water environment has helped us retain the use of registered chemicals and will speed the registration of new ones.
Disease control has had vigorous and productive study. Effective control of the widespread stem rot is increasingly applied on the farm. Seed treatment is now used commercially to protect seedlings against fungus.
Marketing promotion is not our function under the present Marketing Order. Yet new-product research is authorized, and researchers have developed a bread of rice flour and other innovative uses for rice that are attracting commercial interest.
Research has been the key to extra millions in income during this program. California rice growers cannot control price levels - so research will be the key to remaining in business and competing in the challenging years ahead.
So study this report carefully. It details your rewards from investment in rice research. The individual studies are summarized on pages 30-31.