2021 Yield Contest Winners
In 2015 University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) initiated the UCCE Rice Yield Contest. 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.
2021 was generally a good for rice production. A dry spring lead to earlier than normal planting and a dry Fall allowed harvest to proceed without interruption until late October when historic rainfall resulted in the remaining 5% of unharvested rice very challenging to harvest. Yield contest yields were very high and ranged from 108.3 to 137.3 cwt/ac (241 to 305 bu/ac). Milling yields varied widely this year and depended a lot on the timing of harvest relative to the two periods of strong and warm north winds experienced during harvest season.
For each region going from regions 1 to 3, the winners were Hafeez Rehman, Jack Sheppard and Gordon Wylie. Hafeez’s field was in Glenn county and yielded 113.2 cwt. The field had been in rice the previous year and straw was incorporated and flooded over the winter. Hafeez planted M-210 (a blast resistant variety) at a rate of 175 lb/ac on May 13. He applied a total of 193 lb N/ac (135 as aqua, 32 as 16-20-0, and 26 as a top-dress of ammonium sulfate). His herbicide program was Butte followed by Regiment. He also applied Lambda-Cy (week after planting) and Quadris (early heading). His field was harvested Oct 5 and his head and totals were 65/72.
Jack Sheppard farms in Butte county and his field yielded 135.8 cwt/ac. This is a record for this region. The highest prior to this was achieved last year by Eric Sligar (127.9 cwt/ac with M-211). The field had been in rice the previous year and straw was incorporated and flooded over the winter. Jack dry-seeded M-211 at a seeding rate of 150 lb/ac and his first flush was completed April 20. He applied 223 lb N/ac (120 aqua, 35 as 8-10-8, and 68 in two top-dress N applications). The higher than normal N rate was due to anticipated N losses when aqua is used for dry-seeding. His herbicide program was Prowl followed by Regiment and Superwham. He applied Quadris 85 days after planting. His field was harvested on Sept 22 and the grain moisture was 19.7% and had head and totals of 63/73.
Gordon Wylie farms with Baker Creek Farming in Colusa county and his field yielded 137.3 cwt/ac. This is the highest yields we have recorded ever in our contest. The previous record was held by Sean Dougherty (135 cwt/ac with M-209) also from this same region. This field was fallowed the previous year. It was planted to M-211 on April 20 at a seeding rate of 142 lb/ac. The total N rate was 149 lb/ac (117 as aqua, 32 as 16-20-0 starter). The herbicide program was Butte followed by propanil. Mustang was applied early and Quadris at boot-split. The field was harvested on Sept 24.
In the seven 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, M-211 and M-401. However, since M-211 has come on the scene, it has become a game changer and has been shown in our variety trial to have higher yield potential in areas where it is adapted. Second, yield potential varies from year to year (with 2017 and 2019 being low and 2021 being high) 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. Fourth, to achieve these high yields, fertilizer N rates were typical for California and generally range from 150 to 200 lb N/ac for the winners. Sixth, good, uniform stand establishment stand out as being important. In the contest, the highest yields typically have more than 70 tillers per ft2 at harvest. Finally, high yields can be achieved with a range of herbicide programs.
Good turnout for these contests are in part due to a prize that we offer. The prize this year is 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. In 2021, these were (in alphabetical order): Corteva, FMC, Gowan, Nichino, UPL, Valent, Valley Truck and Tractor, and Wilbur-Ellis.
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.