Drought Effects on California Rice Production

california rice fieldNorthern California is at the heart of the rice growing region, producing 97 percent of the state’s rice crop. California is the second largest rice producing state in the US, providing nearly 2 million tons of paddy rice every crop year. This equates to roughly 25% of the total rice produced in the United States.

With over 94% of California in drought conditions, and planting season just months away, many California rice growers are uncertain about their ability to obtain the quantity of water needed to maintain their current yields.

Federal and city water allocations are still being negotiated and many farmers have heard that they may only receive 40% of the water they need this planting season. Additionally, some farmers may receive no federal water at all. With not enough water to go around, farmers are likely going to lay less seed, thus impacting yields come harvest season this fall.

In a drought situation it is important to note that farmers are not the only ones impacted. Droughts may impact local economies, such as Richvale and Colusa, where agriculture is a major source of revenue and income.  Environmental and ecological impacts also occur, as dependent wildlife struggle to find enough water.  Thirdly, if the rice supply drops, prices will likely rise for end consumers.

The effects of the current drought are still unclear, however, the USDA does predict a 3% decline in total milled rice production from last year. Exports are also predicted to go down roughly 6% from the previous crop year. It is evident that all consumers need to do their part to conserve water so that our California farmlands can continue to flourish.

Frontier Ag is working closely with local rice growers to bring updates on how the drought is effecting California rice production.