Man has been growing and harvesting rice since at least 5,000 B.C., and probably a whole lot longer. Archeologists have traced its origin to the rice paddies in India and Thailand. It is a staple in virtually all of Asia, where billions of people grow and eat it. And, you can grow it, too. Learn how to grow rice plants in your garden, or even on your deck.
Yes, you too can grow rice! And, why not give it a try? What you need is a hot, and wet environment, with a long growing season. Short of that, we will give you a method for growing it in containers in a greenhouse, or right on your patio or deck.
Did You Know? Worldwide, over 400 million tons of rice are grown annually. 90% of it is grown in Asia.
I am writing this article on growing rice, amidst one of the rainiest spring and summer seasons in our area’s history. I am not alone in bemoaning that if this seemingly endless rain continues, I am going to plant rice. In thinking about this, I also recognized that many areas of the country have experienced excessive amounts of rain, and even flooding, at one time or another. And, I am certain that many gardeners in those soggy areas have also proclaimed that they were going to plant and grow it, too.
So, why not follow through on your threat to grow rice!?
Botanical Name: Oryza Sativa
When we think of growing rice, and the hot, rainy environment it requires, we usually think of China and other areas of Asia, where rice is a basic staple. Most people do never think about growing it in the United States. It may surprise you to know that not only is the U.S. a major producer, but in 2017, the U.S. began to export rice to China for the first time!
The U.S. produces 19 billion pounds of rice a year. Arkansas is the largest producer, growing 40% of the U.S. crop. Other states include California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.
Rice is grown in the southern states, as the plants need a long growing season and hot weather. They also need a lot of rainfall. Irrigation works in place of monsoon-type rainfall.
Days to Harvest: 160
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 6.5. Ideal Soil pH by vegetable.
Important Note: Rice grows in shallow, basically non-moving water. This is an ideal condition for mosquitos.
You can scour the internet for a seed source for growing rice. Not too many companies sell the seeds for planting. But, you will find a few.
Perhaps the easiest way to get seeds is to go to your local grocery store and buy raw, unprocessed, long grain rice. The germination rate may not be very high, but many seeds will germinate. Note: Do not try to use white rice, It has been processed and will not germinate.
It is fun and novel to grow rice on your patio or deck. Your gardening friends will be in awe!
Use clean plastic containers, like a milk jug or a bucket. They need to be several inches deep.
Add 6 – 8 inches of dirt. You can also use potting soil.
Add water into the container. After it has soaked into the soil, continue to add water until it is about 2 inches above the level of the soil. Maintain this level through the early growth stage.
Take a handful or two of the seeds (depending upon the size of the container) and sprinkle them into the water. The seeds will settle to the bottom of the water and germinate on the top of the soil.
Place the container in a warm, sunny location, on your patio or deck. Bring the container indoors on cool or cold nights. In more northerly areas, you may have to get an early start, by starting the rice indoors before warm weather arrives.
It is important to maintain a warm environment.
After the seeds germinate and are about six inches above the water level, increase the water level to four inches above the soil
Do not add any additional water. As the rice continues to grow and mature, the water will slowly evaporate or be used by the plants. By harvest time, the water will be about at the soil level.
Rice plants need a hot, humid, rainy environment, and a long growing season (160 days).
To grow rice, you need an area that can be flooded and will retain water. The flooded field is known as a “rice paddy “. Sandy soils will not do, as water will soak right through. The planting site should also be in full sun.
Flood your rice paddy with a couple of inches of water.
Spread the seeds across the field. It will sink to the soil and germinate in a warm, wet environment.
After the plant has grown 5-6 inches, increase the water to 4 inches above the soil. Then, add no more water.
By the time the water evaporates, the rice will begin to ripen. Green stalks will appear. They will ripen to a golden brown.
The plant is ready to harvest when the stalks turn from green to a golden color.
Cut the stalk and allow them to dry in a warm, dry place, for about 2- 3 weeks.
After they have dried, roast the rice in the oven, or a dehydrator, at 175 – 200 ° F. for one hour.
Remove the hulls by hand, a somewhat tedious job.