Texas Rice: Garry McCauley Retires After 39 Years and Many Accomplishments

    I want to recognize Dr. Garry McCauley who retired on March 31.

    Garry began work with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in 1975, and gave 39 years of outstanding service to Texas and US rice industries.

    Garry once told me that within a few days of being hired, he had to give a rice field day presentation at the Beaumont Center. Poor Garry had never put a boot in a rice field, but was expected to inform growers about the latest research on water management in rice! Garry was the first scientist in the US to conduct water management experiments in rice, and he made many important discoveries that directly benefited rice producers.

    For instance:

    1. Early season shallow flood increased yield and conserved water, especially when applied to the semidwarf varieties.
    2. Downward movement of water in Texas rice soils was only 0.08 inches per day as compared to 0.25 inches per hour for soils in other parts of Texas and the US.
    3. Flush irrigations need not last more than 1 hour since 95% of the total water absorbed in a 24 hour period  occurs during the first hour (short flushes provide sufficient water with less stress on rice.
    4. Sprinkler-irrigated rice used 40% less water than flood-irrigated rice, but produced 50% less rice with increased disease and weed problems.
    5. Rice paddies serve as artificial settling ponds  resulting in cleaner output than input water.

    In 1988, Garry also assumed leadership of the weed management research program. In addition, in 1995, Garry transferred from the Beaumont Center to the David R. Wintermann Rice Research Station at Eagle Lake where he effectively became the Rice Specialist for Texas which involved both research and extension duties.

    Garry became the go-to-scientist for rice farmers on the west side of Houston. His important weed research and agronomic discoveries included:

    1.  The CLEARFIELD system could be used safely on the sandy soils of the Western Rice Belt of Texas;
    2. Command could be used safely on these same soils;
    3. Grasp and Regiment could effectively control alligator weed in rice when tank-mixed with Grandstand;
    4. RiceBeaux increased the effectiveness of Newpath for red rice control;
    5. Eighteen days is the optimum dry period between main crop drain and ratoon crop flood;
    6. The ratoon crop should be flooded immediately after main crop harvest; and
    7. Main crop stubble should be flail mowed to a height of 8-10 inches for maximum ratoon crop yield.

    Garry served as Secretary and Chair of the Rice Technical Working Group in 2006 and 2008, respectively, which required a tremendous amount of time and effort.

    Beginning in 1972, when Garry was attending Oklahoma State University, he received Sigma Xi’s Outstanding Research Paper Award for source-detection geometry effect on neutron probe calibration. In 1985, he received the Distinguished Performance Award for Texas Research presented by the Deputy Chancellor of Texas A&M University.

    The McCauley Family

    The McCauley Family

    In 1986, Garry received the Texas A&M University Distinguished Performance Award for Agriculture for Team Research for his work developing production practices for the new semidwarf variety—Lemont. During this same year, he received the USDA Superior Service Award for work developing and implementing the Econo-Rice program. Also in 1986, he earned the Distinguished Rice Research and Education Award presented by the Rice Technical Working Group for efforts as part of a team to develop and implement the Econo-Rice program.

    In 1996, Garry was a Co-recipient of the Clean Texas 2000 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in Agriculture for his work improving water use efficiency in the Texas Rice Belt. Then in 2012, he received the Distinguished Rice Research and/or Education Team Award for significant contributions in rice field nitrogen use efficiency and the Distinguished Service Award both from the Rice Technical Working Group for his many years of service benefiting the Texas and US rice industries.

    Garry is married to his beautiful wife, Ruth, who taught school many years in El Campo. Ruth is semi-retired, but still substitute teaches. Garry and Ruth were high school sweethearts in Oklahoma and have been married 49 years this August! They have 2 daughters, Paula and Jo-Ann, and 5 grandchildren. Garry and Ruth love to travel and read. I have received several postcards from Garry and Ruth cruising on their motorcycles!

    So, Dr. Garry McCauley and Ruth, on behalf of the entire Texas rice industry, I wish you many years of blissful retirement— and may you never have to slog through another muddy rice field! I hope to see you soon with your favorite libation!

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