the time rice puts on its fourth leaf it has enough strength and roots to
stand up out of the water. This is also the time when the plant becomes
dependent on the sun and soil nutrients to provide its energy. You will
notice that the plants in the center picture have lots of space between
them. In California, growers are looking for a plant density of 15-20 plants
per square foot to ensure a good crop.
You can also see the "scum" floating on the water. Scum and algae are problems early in the growing process. They decrease the amount of light that can reach the seedling and can form a mat that makes it difficult for the seedling to get out of the water.
Once the rice is up out of the water, growth occurs rapidly. This is the most vulnerable time for rice because the weeds grow even faster than rice. The next page will show how growers deal with the weeds.
In the summer, the ducks and geese are gone, but rice fields serve as a habitat for shore birds and many other animals (Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus shown in lower right). For further information on the animals that use rice fields click here.