Weather Forecasts Close at Hand
A new weather page on the World Wide Web for rice growers in the Sacramento Valley provides a single source for local weather information. The Rice Research Board has contracted with Weathernews in Chico to expand and update the Board's weather web page. The new weather web page can be accessed at www.syix.com/rrb by clicking on weather. The new weather page was introduced this year.
In 1981, the first year of the organized rice straw burning program in the Sacramento Valley, the Rice Research Board worked with Nowcasting (today Weathernews) to establish a network of automated weather stations in the rice growing regions of the Valley. The network of automated weather stations has been updated and expanded over the years to cover the Sacramento Valley from Orland to Sacramento. Real-time and historical observations from this network of weather stations are now available to rice growers and rice researchers over the Internet.
A unique feature of the new weather web page is Weathernews' WINDS for the Web. WINDS for the Web is an interactive weather display program. Growers can select the type of report or graph to be displayed, the weather station(s) they want to view data from and a start and end day. Generating a graph of the daily maximum and minimum temperatures using data from the Rice Research Board weather station in Maxwell is now easy on the new weather web page. Another feature of WINDS for the Web is the degree-day calculator. Rice growing degree-days and degree-days for over 100 phenology models can be calculated using data from the automated weather stations.
The Board's weather stations have been re-programmed to calculate the number of hours each day the temperature is below 55F, between 70-85F and above 95F. The number of hours each day the temperature is below 55F and above 95F will provide useful information regarding blanking during the flowering and pollinating stage of the rice (look under Winds for the Daily Meterological Summary).
New to the Rice Research Board weather web page is a daily agricultural weather forecast for the Sacramento Valley prepared by Weathernews. The weather forecast provides a detailed view of the weather over the Valley for the next 48 hours and an extended outlook to five days. For convenience, growers can have the forecast sent to them daily via e-mail by contacting the Rice Research Board.
Information from each of the Rice Research weather stations can be obtained under the AMOS Network heading. You can select an individual station near you to check conditions that are updated hourly.
Finally, a large variety of visual and infrared satellite imagry is available for your use. I hope each of these items will prove useful as you keep an eye on the weather.
This is an economically painful year. Many of you have been making tough choices about how much to spend on your crop with the current depressed prices. Research done by the RRB may give you one more option to hold down costs.
[Note that the information presented in this article is preliminary. Only one year of research has been done, so proceed with discerning judgement]. Due to the power problems California is experiencing, dryers and mills are warning that their hours of operation will be altered. This raises concern about holding rice in trailers for longer than normal periods of time. Research done in 2000 by Jim Thompson and Cass Mutters showed that rice with moisture values below 22-24% minimizes microbial activity and therefore off odors. This is true for M-202, but Japanese varieties need more careful handling.
Wanting to keep your harvest moisture levels low prompts another question - how does this impact my bottom line. Another area of their research concerned harvesting rice at lower moistures. All of you know that it costs you more to dry high moisture rice than low moisture rice. You have also heard the optimum moisture level for the variety you grow. However, have you ever considered the net return at different moisture levels? I have published a chart for 1999 and 2000 to show you how flat the net return curves are over a range of moistures. With increased drying costs you may want to consider conducting an experiment of your own. Harvesting a portion of your rice at lower moisture values and comparing to a similar, higher moisture field will give you a means of comparing the net return of the two procedures. Three to four points of moisture does not seem to make much difference in your net return.
For the second year, the Rice Research Board is working with FieldWise to provide blast updates. This year the information reported will be based primarily on field observations and many PCA's have received training to distinguish blast for this purpose. If infections start showing up, spore trapping can be initiated to analyze the infection potential.
The information can be accessed by phone (1-800-791-5337) or on the web. For web access, go to FieldWise.com and create a login and password for yourself. Once you have signed on you will see a map. In the upper right corner of the screen, use the scroll buttons to select Disease Risk in the top box and Rice Information in the lower box. This will give you the Heads Up! narrative for blast, Aggregate Sheath Spot and Stem Rot. The site is free and open to all rice growers.