Understanding the relative contribution of environmental and substrate controls on rice paddy methanogenesis is critical for developing mechanistic models of landscape-scale methane (CH4) flux. A diurnal pattern in observed rice paddy CH4 flux has been attributed to fluctuations in soil temperature physically driving diffusive CH4transport from the soil to atmosphere. Here we make direct landscape-scale measurements of carbon dioxide and CH4 fluxes and show that gross ecosystem photosynthesis (GEP) is the dominant cause of the diurnal pattern in CH4 flux, even after accounting for the effects of soil temperature. The time series of GEP and CH4 flux show strong spectral coherency throughout the rice growing season at the diurnal timescale, where the peak in GEP leads that of CH4 flux by 1.3 ± 0.08 hours. By applying the method of conditional Granger causality in the spectral domain, we demonstrated that the diurnal pattern in CH4 flux is primarily caused by GEP.