Rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, California were sampled in 1985 and 1986 to determine the weight of rice seed remaining in the fields immediately after harvest and again after the fields were burned. No significant differences were found between years (P>0.05). The pooled mean was 388 kg/ha in harvested fields and 276 kg/ha in burned fields. These values are less than estimates previously available. The values for harvested fields both years were no different (P>0.05) than values obtained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Surveys of rice fields in December both years showed that most fields were left either harvested (26-32%) or burned (37-40%) through the winter. Fields flooded for duck hunting made up 15% of the total. The proportion of fields plowed by December increased from 14% in 1985 to 22% in 1986. Sixty-three percent of all fields that had been flooded for hunting were drained within two weeks after the end of the hunting season. Harvest yield field size levee type (contour, lasered), straw status (spread, windrowed), harvest date, and rice variety did not affect the quantity of seeds remaining after harvest (P>0.05). One harvester model, the Hardy Harvester, left more rice in fields than did others we tested (P<0.001). Specific management programs are recommended to mitigate annual variation in rice seed availability to waterfowl caused by differences in total hectares grown (15% less in 1986) and in the proportion of fields burned and plowed.
Additional publication details
Rice available to waterfowl in harvested fields in the Sacramento Valley, California