Might consider stocking up on Rice now (also why hybrids)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
Rice growers fear blanks due to cool By Ali Bay, Capital Press
"SACRAMENTO - California's rice fields in the Central Valley may be drawing a few blanks this season.
"Cool evening temperatures have not only pushed back the fall harvest by a couple of weeks, they have also increased the chances that the rice heads may turn up empty when the critical cell division takes place in the crop.
'Rice is sensitive to cool evening temperatures,' said Bill Huffman, spokesperson for the Farmers Rice Cooperative in Sacramento. 'We've had some low 50s in the (Sacramento) Valley,' he said. '(Rice) likes to see those evening temperatures above 60 degrees.'
"In late July evening temperatures fell into the mid-50s for about two weeks in Sacramento, Glenn and Colusa counties. If rice plants were at a critical point during that time, substantial blanking can occur, said Marlin Brandon, director of the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, Calif.
'It looks like there could be some problems with sterility or blanking,' said Brandon. 'The potential is there.'
"But rice experts argue that it's too early to tell just how much damage will be incurred by rice growers this season. Many factors can still come into play. Cool temperatures can affect the rice, but it is really the duration of the chilly weather that could have the most significant effect on the crop, said Brandon.
'And of course not everything (every plant) is at that critical point at the same time,' he said. So only some rice stands may be affected.
'It's really too early to tell if there's been damage,' said Huffman. 'You really never know until you get a harvester in the field.'
"If speculations of blanking become true for growers, California may not have as large a crop as originally estimated. About 550,000 acres of rice have been planted in California this year, according to the Farmers Rice Cooperative. The Agriculture Statistics Service has even stretched that figure to 570,000 acres. No matter which number is correct, the state would certainly expect a substantial crop under normal conditions with that many acres.
"However, the cool weather is just one of the problems that have plagued growers this year, reducing the possibilities of a high-yielding season.
"Earlier in the year the rice crop was rattled with high winds, which will reduce yields, especially around the edges of the fields. In addition, growers have struggled to control broadleaf weeds in their yields after one of the most common chemicals used in the industry had its registration revoked because it was leaving black spots on prunes in surrounding orchards.
'There appears to be a higher incidence of weeds,' said Huffman. 'We really don't have an array of weed herbicides that are working all that well,' he said. The rice is being crowded out, further affecting yields.
"With potential disappointment quickly becoming reality in the rice industry, Brandon is hopeful of one thing: new and better rice varieties for the state.
'Tolerance to low temperatures is something California breeders must have,' he said.
"Next year the California Rice Experiment Station, a private, nonprofit foundation that receives funding from growers, will release a new variety of rice that is more resistant to both the cold and lodging (which occurred during last season's high heat, causing the rice stands to grow extremely tall, then slump over).
"The specialty rice Calmochi-101, which is currently being grown on 12 acres at the organization's research station, is maturing early. Scientists are now creating the basic seed source to prepare the new variety for the commercial market in the year 2000.
'It does look good,' said Brandon.
-- marsh (email@example.com), August 16, 1999
Egads! Rice is our main staple (along with SPAM) in Hawai'i. Better lay in another couple of bags.
-- Mad Monk (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 17, 1999.
The memories of plate lunch still waft through my brain from last week. So much teriaki, so little time. It's tough to return from vacation sometimes.
-- nothere nothere (email@example.com), August 17, 1999.