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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Rice Experiment Station celebrates 100 Years

  • An agreement between the Sacramento Valley Grain Association and the Bureau of Plant Industry of the US Government June 19, 1912, lead to the 100th Anniversary Field Day Celebration of the Richvale Rice Experiment Station (RES) last month. With over 500 attending for various field nursery tours, demonstrations, meetings and a sushi lunch it was a full morning.
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  •     An agreement between the Sacramento Valley Grain Association and the Bureau of Plant Industry of the US Government June 19, 1912, lead to the 100th Anniversary Field Day Celebration of the Richvale Rice Experiment Station (RES) last month. With over 500 attending for various field nursery tours, demonstrations, meetings and a sushi lunch it was a full morning.
        One hundred years ago some very forward-thinking farmers began what is now a successful rice research program with 44 new varieties of rice coming from the Highway 162 location. Of course Richvale is widely known for rice, it's largest commodity. Familiar names are linked to the early days of the Sacramento Valley Grain Association such as directors President J.M. Hastings (butcher and president of Sacramento Valley Bank in Biggs), Vice President C.E. Chatfield (local dry good merchant), Secretary H.S. Brough (Sacramento Valley Bank  cashier), H.S. Brink (blacksmith and implement dealer), G.E. Harvey (rice grower, buyer and realtor) and C.T. Tullock, (Sutter Butte Canal Company Irrigation engineer).
        With the end of World War II, The Sacramento Valley Grain Association was dissolved and the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, Inc., was formed.
        Over the years, technology changed many times over as written in RES Centennial Field Day Celebration booklet, complete with early day photographs in comparison to the modern equipment now used along with the laboratories making the breeding goals possible.
        "What started as a few breeding goals in the 1960's - such as short-stature, early maturity, adaptation to cold environment, and better agronomic characteristics - have now been modified to face new environmental and market challenges, such as developing varieties that have better resistance to blast (possibly the number one fungal disease of rice worldwide), better tolerance to new herbicides, higher milling yields, better grain and cooking quality, increased and stable yield, and being responsive to changing consumer preferences on taste, seed size, plumpness, shape, translucency or uniformity," as stated in the day's program.
         Dr. Kent McKenzie was hired as a plant breeder in 1988 when Dr. H.L. Carnahan retired after many years of excellent service.  McKenzie was named Station Director in 2000 and has made a huge impact in the progress of RES. Because of McKenzie, 100 sack yields occur now on a regular basis.
        Centennial sponsors were: Dow AgroSciences, BUCRA, California Rice Commission, RiceCo, Willowood USA, ADM Rice, Inc., Catlett Warehouse, Farmers' Rice Cooperative, Wilbur-Ellis Company and Helena Chemical.
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