Good News for California Rice! Bad News for Algae!

Posted on September 14, 2011 by

Good News for California Rice! Bad News for Algae!


California’s Rice Crop is a Big Deal. 575,000 Northern California Acres are devoted to Rice.

More than 2 million pounds of rice are produced each year. Sixty Percent (60%) of the entire crop is exported.

Customers are found in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

Rice production means water consumption, but Northern California’s rice growers are very efficient in water use. They need about 2.5 acre feet of water per acre to produce a rice crop.

This is easily 20% less water use than is found in other California crops such as fruit trees and vines.

Huge rice fields are as level as table tops. They are flooded with a few inches of water to allow for rice seed germination and seedling emergence. As the rice seedlings emerge, the rice grower’s ancient enemy also emerges…..a single cell weed plant: algae!

Algae, commonly thought of as green algae, is the major pest for rice growers. Algae’s impact is that it grows near the surface of the water and it encapsulates the emerging rice shoots. The rice shoots grow, but they are bent over and never take on their upright growth pattern. Consequently, rice yields are reduced.

In California’s rice fields, an “ordinary” pest has evolved into a pest population comprised mainly of one specialized and resistant economic challenge. The algae that is emerging as dominant and destructive is: Nostoc spongioforme! We call it “Nostoc”.

Nostoc has become resistant to traditional algaecide treatments and represents a major pest control challenge.

The good news is that all 575,000 acres of rice stand to benefit from the work of a Central California company which specializes in Irrigation Technologies (and algae control). Nostoc stands to suffer!

Ag Water Chemical of Fresno has introduced a revolutionary new product for control of algae in rice fields. It is a liquid formulation of “activated copper” known as CopCheck. This new product has been developed in Northern California trials and received registration from Cal EPA in 2011.

Large scale field tests (2011) show that CopCheck offers attractive advantages:

1) CopCheck controls Nostoc! 2) CopCheck is effective at vanishing low concentrations: 60 parts per billion of active ingredient; 3) CopCheck “self dispersing”: applied to an entire field by a single person or by a single irrigation pump. No need to apply by airplane…….saves at least $10/acre!

You can easily get information about CopCheck: James Legari and Richard Clevanger are the principles of Ag Water Chemical and there are great friends of The Dawson Company.

Contact Ag Water Chemical at 559 227 1114,



Food Safety from Allan

And Speaking of Water …. Some Disturbing Information.

It has often been debated over the years whether microorganisms actually possess the ability to migrate in plant tissues. Recently published research1,2 by Amanda Deering et al of Purdue University substantiates that indeed both Salmonella serovar Typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157:H7 are able to do so in peanuts and mung beans, respectively.

Seeds of both plants were contaminated with known amounts of bacteria for a period of 30 minutes. To prevent the mechanical movement of the bacteria in plant tissue samples, the researchers employed a fixative prior to slicing. The pathogens were labeled with a fluorescent dye to detect their presence.

The Salmonella bacteria were found to be associated with every major tissue of the peanut seedling. In addition, the bacteria were reported to be at high levels (109 CFU/plant) after two days subsequent to the contamination of the seeds, and persisted at significant levels for several days thereafter.

Similarly, E. coli O157:H7 was found to be present in every major tissue of the mung bean sprout. The bacteria were at high levels of 107 CFU/plant and they persisted for a 12 day period, which was the length of the test

This information is disturbing in that it shows that certain seeds, even when treated prior to shipment, can be contaminated with these pathogens via soil and/or water. Further, once inside the plant the bacteria are now protected from the effects of sanitation procedures. This work further substantiates previous research, and emphasizes the critical need for proper agricultural practices to minimize the introduction of bacterial contaminants during plant growth. Review those GAP procedures to ensure your aren’t leaving yourself open to significant problems.

1 Deering et al. Food Research International 2011.01.061

2 Deering et al. Journal of Food Protection 74:8 Aug 2011 pp. 1224-30

Until next time,


Hartono and Company LLC

Food Safety Consulting