In A Year Like No Other, Annual California Rice Field Day Offers Optimism

2022-CA-Field-Day, a man and woman hold plaque in front of CA Rice banner
CRC CEO Tim Johnson presents Roberta Firoved with plaque of appreciation for her work on behalf of the industry (Katie Cahill photo)
Sep 02, 2022
BIGGS, CA – For 110 years, the Rice Experiment Station has been delivering outstanding results for California’s rice industry, and hundreds gathered this week for the annual Field Day here for reports on what lies ahead.

Rob Doombas, chair of the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF), welcomed attendees with words of encouragement during these difficult times and turned the program over to the new station director, Dr. Dustin Harrell.  Harrell is not the only fresh face at the station, and he gave a quick overview of other recent additions to the research team and exciting new research that would be covered throughout the morning.

During the CCRRF business meeting financial reports were given and it was announced that there would be no yield contest for 2022 because so many areas have been sidelined by drought.  But then the mood changed when two long-time rice industry staff were celebrated with standing ovations from the crowd.  First, Dana Dickey, who for more than 20 years has served as the executive director of the California Rice Research Board, was honored at his retirement.

Then the 2022 Rice Industry Award was presented to Roberta Firoved, industry affairs manager for the California Rice Commission (CRC).

CRC President Tim Johnson, in his introduction of Firoved, talked about her illustrious career and her standing throughout the state and country as a true expert and advocate for rice, and her reputation as a consummate professional.

“If you use some compound in your rice operation, rest assured, Roberta has had a hand in making sure you had access to it and will continue to,” Johnson said.

Then the gathered broke up into groups to tour the station and receive updates on the long, medium, and short grain breeding programs that evaluated more than 86,000 entries in 2021 and is evaluating at least two promising new releases; rice agronomy research into fallowed fields and efficiency; pest, insect, and red rice management; and the state’s first herbicide tolerant rice, the non-GMO ROXY ® Rice Production System.

A second tour headed to another part of the station to learn about the Weed Science Program and the many experiments going on there to improve the tools in growers’ toolboxes.

Following the tours, lunch was served that included sushi, tri-tip steak, fresh fruit and vegetables, and four California rices developed at the station: basmati, jasmine, short grain, and medium grain.