Yield Loss during the 2019 California Rice Harvest!


[wind blowing] The 2019 California Rice Harvest has come
to an end. And it’s way too windy out here. Oh yeah, much better. Yeah, the 2019 California Rice Harvest has
come to an end. It’s the 4th harvest I’ve featured on
Rice Farming TV and shared with you, here on YouTube. In 2016 I was just a young idealistic farmer
who wanted to have fun and explain how rice is harvested in California. It was a relatively smooth harvest. The rice was standing and we didn’t suffer
many breakdowns. [harvester sounds] In 2017, after a few extended heat-waves that
scorched the Sacramento Valley, our rice grew upwards excessively and eventually fell down
flat. Yeah, our 2017 harvest was rough, having to slowly and meticulously cut all that lazy rice. [harvester sounds] In our 2018 harvest was riddled with breakdowns. The John Deere 9660 CTS blew a rotor drum. The John Deere CTS 2 shattered a windshield. The Claas Lexion 585R dropped a track after
a cracked gusset weld. [machinery sounds] Links to those harvest videos are down in
the description. Yeah, those were 3 very different harvests. However they all had one thing in common:
we did maintain excellent yields. This year, however, it’s a totally different
story. [music] Our 2019 rice crop stayed standing. Our harvest equipment kept running. As I mentioned in Episode 112 titled, The
John Deere 9660 CTS Returns, everything started smoothly. Our yields were up, on the high end of average
actually. We were cutting 10,000 lbs. to the acre. [harvester sounds] I concluded the episode with our harvest on
pause. We were cutting so fast we ran into unripe
rice that was planted later in the spring. That’s typical when harvest is running so
smooth–we can cut faster in the fall than we could plant in the spring. Yeah, that’s where we’re at. And if you haven’t seen that episode, check
it out in the description because later we’ll build on some grain moisture concepts that
I covered there. Anyway, a few days off and with half our crop
harvested, we started cutting again. And that’s when our yields started to decrease. That’s when the story of this year’s harvest
started to reveal itself. Now, as I conveyed in the opening of this
episode, not every harvest is the same. And the story of every harvest starts back
in the spring, before planting even. It’s starts with a shovel, with rainwater
and with mud. So let’s look back to the beginning of the
crop year, in order to understand why our yields and the yields across the Sacramento
Valley started to suffer. This year, like every year, at the end of
winter we rushed to remove the rainwater that filled our fields. We do so in hopes of starting tractor work
in early April. In draining the water, we succeeded. But with heavy rain storms in mid-April we
had no chance to start tractor work, to start breaking the soil. Our fields re-filled with rain-water. Our tractors sat idle. Our fields finally drained, again, in late
April and, finally, we were able to start the tractors… [tractor sounds] …three weeks later than we desired. We started working the soil—although in
less than ideal conditions. Areas of our fields were still muddy. Yeah, we risked getting our tractors stuck
but we needed to get started. We were already late. Fortunately our old John Deere 8640 got us
through the worst parts. The late April rains pushed our planting dates
into early to mid-May. [plane flying] Historically fields planted after mid-may
show a loss in yield. They just aren’t awarded the same ideal
climate range during their growth–during their life cycle. Basically we are pushing their reproductive
phase further into the year, when it begins to cool. This can prevent optimal self-pollination
thus decrease yields. What we were cutting in the second-half of
harvest was planted in the second week of May. [harvester sounds] And rather than yielding 10,000 lbs. an acre
we were falling down to the low 9,000s and high 8,000s. The effect of those mid-may plant dates started
showing up in the second half of our harvest. They’re still great yields, not detrimental
but also 1,000 lbs. difference per acre is nothing to shrug off. With the price of rice tight–every 100 lbs.
sack is important. And of course we continued on, cutting as
efficiently as we could. Now, back to spring, with our entire crop
planted within the first half of May we thought it would be smooth sailing. [rain hitting windshield] But the third week of the month brought a
couple severe rain storms that dropped over 4 inches of rain across our already flood-irrigated
fields. With a thirty day water hold due to a pest
management application, targeting competing weed pressure, we could not drain the water. Our fields were too deep. We suffered a bit of drift, seeds being pushed
across the field by deep water and high winds. We potentially drowned out and killed some
young rice in the deeper areas of the fields. The rain water diluted the pest management
application not allowing it to effectively treat the weeds. All this undoubtedly dinged our overall yield
potential on top of the late start. Now back to harvest. [harvester sounds] It’s important to note that aside from decreasing
yields due late planting dates and deep water, an additional risk of planting so late is
the increased probability of running into fall rains during harvest. As you know from Episode 112 we can’t cut
in the rain due to outside moisture. So everyone out in the valley was cutting
as fast as they could, all at the same time. Hoping to avoid running into any fall rain. So everyone’s rice was ripe at the same time. It goes back to the fact everyone planted
at the same time back in May, back after those spring rain delays. It created a tight planting window and resulted
now in a tight harvesting window. In October everyone in the valley had a ripe
crop. We’re all at harvest moisture. So naturally, we were all worried about rain
interrupting our harvest. But it didn’t rain. As a matter of fact, fortunately, the opposite
happened. Strong north-winds blew through the valley,
helping drop the grain moisture of the rice. Meaning everyone was harvesting and everyone’s
rice was ripe and we all constantly had a lot of ripe rice ahead of us to harvest. Ideally it’s great for us rice farmers out
in the field. Although it’s terrible for the crew at the
rice dryers. So terrible in fact that they called and shut
us down. We had ripe rice, we had tuned equipment,
we had daylight but we were shut down. We stopped, you see, because we were delivering
rice to the dryers too fast and the dryers couldn’t keep up. They couldn’t take the rice, dry it down
to storage moisture and move the crop out into storage, while making room in the drying
columns for more rice deliveries. [rice flowing] This created the great 2019 rice harvest bottle-neck. So the driers, they shut us down midday so
they could make time in the afternoon, evening and night to dry the delivered rice and get
it into storage, making space for the next day’s deliveries. That was the idea. But we didn’t stop cutting. No one stopped cutting. Yes, we stopped delivering at the dryer but
we kept cutting. We filled all our trailers. We filled our bankout wagons and grain carts. We filled our combines and then, only then–when
we ran out of on farm storage–did we stop cutting. We did this and so do all the other growers
in the area because the rice was ready to be cut. And if we could cut we’ll cut. I mean, we’re farmers right. The moisture of the rice was so low after
the north winds blew through, we could afford a percentage point bump storing the rice overnight. The next morning we compounded the problem
at the dryer. As soon as their gates opened farmers around
the area delivered loads after loads of rice that was cut the day before. Soon in the early afternoon, we were shut
down again. The dryer had reached capacity for the day. It’s a cycle that continued through harvest. The only thing that saved us all from extra
stress and even more of a potential yield loss is that it didn’t rain. Thank goodness it didn’t rain. But the north winds continued to blow. That’s when PG and E called and further
compounded the problems at the dryer. They cut off power to much of the North State. This was of course was a reactionary precaution
after their culpability surrounding last year’s Camp Fire in Paradise, just 35 miles away
from our fields. They cut the power, during those, quote high
risk wind events–hoping to avoid an electrical spark, hoping to avoid another out-of-control
wildfire. A power surge, during all this on and off,
shut down our co-op dryer in Biggs, only for a few seconds but it was enough to jam the
augers full of rice–enough to halt progress. A problem that can only be rectified by manually
clearing the augers before restarting the system. That took time and set them back even further. Yeah, the driers definitely received the brunt
of farmer’s stress this harvest. But crews there did an excellent job with
what they were handed. Again, it could have been worse if rainy weather
loomed in the near forecast. The yields of the back half of our crop remained
down through the end of harvest. The rain never came and we finished without
any major breakdowns. The story this year was the weather. Spring rains delayed our planting and fall
winds rushed along our harvest–both impacted the driers and, consequently slowed us down
while the back half of our crop suffered a yield dip. That’s the 2019 rice crop in a sentence
or in…a video. Pretty exciting! I think. Harvest is over but our work is still not
done. We need to clean our equipment and prepare
our fields for winter. We need to get rid of the rice straw that
remains in our fields. And that my friends is the next topic for
next week’s episode of Rice Farming TV. A lot of you have been asking about the different
methods in which we take care of our straw and I’ll be happy to explain. Well, I hope everyone had a great harvest,
a great fall. Thank you for watching this episode of Rice
Farming TV. Stay tuned next time and I’ll explain how
we’re cleaning up all that mess out there, around here. Thanks for watching. Take care. [music]

73 thoughts on “Yield Loss during the 2019 California Rice Harvest!

  1. Hi I'm From Pakistan,
    I'm Farmer

    During 2019 In Pakistan rice Yield in loss according to previous year,

    Why ??
    I think climate change has impacted rice production around the world

  2. In Pakistan
    In last year our rice yield per( 1 acer ) was 2400 Kg
    And in 2019 it is 1400 kg 1 per acer,
    It is huge loss
    And in Pakistan Farmer in losss

  3. i do feel like its becoming time to look into getting some storage bins on the farm just to allow you to get as much cut as possible even if you cant deliver it as that would still be better then letting it stand with a chance of it getting rained on

  4. instructive video that explains the difficulties farmers are facing and when farmers make profit they really deserve it. Of course, farmers depend upon the food trade. If these folks buy cheap rice from China and get into cloudseeding to destroy the harvest of the local farmers this would be really underhand dealings

  5. Thanks for sharing. Its been a year nation wide. Our fall harvest here in nebraska stretched from september til almost thanksgiving. Theres a still a few farmers in Our area trying to get corn harvested, but we had alnost 2 ft of snow and some rain. 2019 is gonna be one for the books. Thanks for sharing

  6. Matt — Please, keep YOUR perspective videos coming,winter work and all. Old farmer that enjoys the new generation,with technical add on,showing
    better steward of the land methods. The mix of old equipment, with new, for dollar value.

  7. Very good explaining this season rice crop. Farmers here in Norther IL are having to harvest between rain & snow storms. Can't park semi trucks in fields. Still a lot of soybeans and corn not harvest yet. Belated happy Thanksgiving. God Bless.

  8. I wonder if the drying facility could build giant bags that could temporarily hold the rice when they have too much coming in? You set the bags up only when needed

  9. I have heard that there is a straw shortage around the country and with as dry as the straw looked coming out of your combine couldn't you have baled some of it and sold it to farmers in the Midwest and south?I don't know the costs to bale the straw so that might not work for your operation

  10. I’m from the opposite side of the country in Georgia with peanuts and cotton and it’s amazing how we all go through the same struggles.

  11. Im old enough to remember when they burned the fields in fall right after school started. For a week the foothills would be bathed in a layer of smoke till the wind would carry it away. It doesn't surprise me your yields are down. It was the wettest winter in awhile. It reminded me of the way the rain fell in the 60s, a lot.

  12. Somehow harvest sure is similar to planting Matthew. The weather certainly has an impact. But losses aside, you family operation has safely survived with people and harvest equipment intact. Hope you and your family are enjoying a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend. Here the weather outside is just a plain ole Blizzard! -Bob…

  13. They make pellet machines that can be used to convert the rice husk and straw! I’m not sure if it’s worth it but my thinking is if you sprayed ammonia and nitrogen into the pellet machine during the winter and spread the pellets into the soil same time as the soil is tilled it will also help retain moisture in the soil and fertilize the soil same time.

  14. your fresh milled rice was the best rice I have ever eaten, amazing how much flavor is lost to age and how it is very similar to coffee in its dulled taste after its aged. I should have bought more! I told a bunch of people but apparently its all sold out. ah well, next year I am buying a truckload (JK not actually a truckload, but hopefully like 5-10lbs.)

  15. Matt, while all the reasons you presented are indeed valid to the low yields, your novice with rice farming is showing. The seasoned and experienced N. California rice grower will always pass the low yield blame off to the Aerial Applicator. A skill growers pass down from generation to generation. Maybe next year.

  16. Hi Matthew, you bring a refreshing and interesting candour to life in America – it is so often sugar coated when seen from abroad, glad to hear that in the end it was a reasonable result. In the UK burning stubble was a regular feature of farming which is now a memory. There have been many reports on the TV here about the problems of air quality in India where stubble is still burned and the effect on the cities has been very harmful. Ploughing it in to the ground rather than burning has to be better for neighbours / cities. Thanks for yet another great video.

  17. Do you sell all your rice at harvest or do watch the price and sell when the price goes up? our buddy Juan did a great job of covering the power outages this fall during the fire season.

  18. The year is 2015 not "2 thousand and 15", 2016 and not "2 thousand and 16", 2017 and not "2 thousand and 17". So many people get this wrong, there is no "and" in a 4 digit number.

  19. What percent of the rice plant is edible and what percent is scrap or unwanted waste and what do you do with the waste?

  20. I love coming up to your area to see the migrating waterfowl in the rice fields after harvest. I'm sorry this year has been rough but happy you were able to get your crop in. Thanks for the excellent explanation. Oh, I call you "The Rice Man".

  21. Sounds like the Grand Solar Minimum is effecting the planting, growing and the harvest this season. It will be interesting if this plays out next year.

  22. You’re such a good video editor. Great rice farmer but if you ever wanted another career no doubt you could be a story planner or editor for educational YouTube content. The cutting and B roll is so fascinating

  23. Greetings from Canada! We have finished our corn harvest finally. Unfortunately our 6620 combine had a major bearing failure with THREE acres remaining.
    Thank God for helpful neighbors. Now we have all winter to fix it

  24. Man, I’ll take that 9,000lb rice! We were In the 6,000lb range here in south Louisiana this year. We even had drilled Ricetec hybrids in the 6,000-7,000lb range.

  25. So let me get this right, the rice co op ( that makes its money by drying rice)stopped you harvestIng in the mid day when a good drying wind is blowing and the rice is at its driest “ to catch up”

  26. First video of yours I viewed. Very well done video from all angles! Looking forward to checking out more of your stuff.

  27. Things suck all over. I’m on east coast and corn, soybeans and cotton really suffered this year, and last year. Yields sucked and prices suck even worse 😔
    Don’t know if we’ll make it to next year. 4 generation farm. It’s pretty bad w all farmers I know

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