The Return of Rain

By Tom Butler

This time of year, there is a Rice Outlook conference involving the six states that produce rice. And for most of the California attendees, the top activity for the three days was to watch the weather back home. We had left for the conference after some welcome rain the week previous, and now there was promise of more. A lot more. More than we received in all of 2013.

And while the storm wasn’t as “epic” as it was hyped to be, it was a welcome change. The five inches of rain filled rain gauges, helped the decomposition of the remaining rice straw in the fields, and filled bypasses and flood plains along the river.

It’s always a reminder how quickly it can change from dry to sloppy, and that we still have a long way to go, but it was nice to actually drive around during the rainy season and actually see rain. Also, after the water short year, it’s a stark reminder as you watch the excess flow into the bypass, and eventually away without being stored, that further improvements are needed in our storage capabilities.

As for now though, we, the wildlife and the aquifers will take the rain.

More about Tom: Tom Butler farms rice with his father, Steve, in Sutter and Yolo Counties. Tom is the fourth generation of his family to farm.

When he’s not on the job, the University of Nebraska graduate enjoys swimming, water polo, hunting and spending time with his family.