2019 Yield Contest Winners
In 2015 University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) initiated the UCCE Rice Yield Contest as a pilot study in Butte county. The contest has now expanded to include all of Sacramento Valley. Due to regional yield potential differences, the valley was divided up into regions (1-NE, 2-NW, 3-S) using the Sacramento River and Hwy 20 as dividing lines (All fields south of Hwy 20 are a single region). Harvest and weighing are closely monitored by UCCE personnel. Yields are determined from a minimum of 3 acres from a 10-acre test plot and reported at 14% moisture. In 2019 we supervised the harvest of 15 fields: three from NE, four from NW, and eight from S.
2019 was a tough year for most growers due to an unusually wet May which complicated planting and stand establishment. Generally most growers reported lower yields in 2019 than in previous years. Overall, yield contest yields were a bit lower than we normally see as well (except in the Glenn/Colusa area). That said, yields were still very respectable and the 2019 winners were Greg Driver, Gary Enos, Jack Sheppard. Greg farms near Robbins (S region) and had the highest overall yields at 119.2 cwt/ac. Greg achieved these yields using the variety M-209 planted on May 2 in a field that had previously been grown to rice (rice is planted every 4 to 5 years). He used a seeding rate of 185 lb seed/ac. His total N rate was 161 lb N/ac. His herbicide program was Bolero/Londax followed by Grandstand. Gary Enos farms near Willows (NW region) and had yields of 117.8 cwt/ac with the variety M-209. This field was planted on May 7 at a seeding rate of 190 lb seed/ac and a total N rate of 163 lb N/ac. For his herbicide program, he used Bolero followed by Propanil/Grandstand followed by Propanil. The yields achieved by Gary are the highest we have recorded in the NW region. Jack Sheppard farms near Biggs (NW region) with his father Josh. Jack is 16 years old and this was his first field farming. His yields were 113.8 cwt/ac. This was achieved with M-105 planted on May 9 at a seeding rate of 150 lb seed/ac, a total N rate of 182 lb N/ac and a herbicide program of Butte followed by Superwham. In general, (NW region excepted) yields were lower 2019. Lower yields are likely due to one of the wettest Mays on record which made early season stand establishment and weed control challenging.
In the five years we have run this contest we are learning a number of things. First, high yields are possible from a number of commercial medium grain varieties. Winners have included M-105, M-205, M-206, M-209, and M-401. Second, yield potential varies from year to year (with 2017 and 2019 being low) and vary throughout the valley (the reason farmers compete with growers in their own region). Third, even at high yields, the head rice and milling yields remain good (head rice totals for 2019 contest winners ranged from 64 to 67; total milling yields 71-73). Fourth, to achieve these high yields, fertilizer N rates were typical for California and ranged from 161 to 182 lb N/ac for the winners. Sixth, good, uniform stand establishment stand out as being important. In the contest, fields that yielded more than 110 cwt all had more than 70 tillers per ft2 at harvest. Finally, high yields can be achieved with a range of herbicide programs.
High turnout for this year’s contest was in part due to a prize that we offered. The prize was a John Deere side-by-side. The winner from each region will draw for the prize at the upcoming winter grower meetings in January. We were able to have this prize due to the generous support of our UCCE Yield Contest Sponsors. These were (in alphabetical order): Corteva, FMC, Gowan, Nichino, Syngenta, UPL, Valent, Valley Truck and Tractor, and Wilbur-Ellis.
2019 UCCE Yield Contest winners: Greg Driver, Jack Sheppard and Gary Enos (left to right) drew to win the John Deere side-by-side. Greg won the prize.
The purpose of the California Rice Yield Contest is to provide an opportunity for rice producers and UC scientists to share information about intensive rice production in California and to recognize individuals who have achieved the highest yields in the state.