How is Wild Rice Grown and Harvested?

Have you wondered how and where wild rice is grown? At Floating Leaf, we get our organic wild rice from Canada, USA and Thailand farmers. Our relationship with the people who grow and harvest the wild rice is important to us, to ensure that it is fair trade, and high quality.

The below information shows you the process of our wild rice, from seed to grain.

Physical Conditions

The Wild Rice plant requires clear water for growing, although the waters may be brown or tea colored, but not opaque or muddy, since the young plants must have sufficient light to grow. The clarity of the water is important during the early growth period occurring in May or June.

Ideally, the plant grows in water from 6 inches to 4 feet deep, although it has been found growing in thin stands having water levels over 5 feet. The most favorable water levels are those that are low enough in the spring so that water in a large portion of the rice bed is shallower than 3 feet. In summer, water levels should be nearly stable or show a slight decline. The plant cannot withstand rising water levels, especially in late June, July and August.

Soil Conditions

Wild Rice grows best on a substratum of deep (at least 18 inches) soft mucky soil. It can also grow well in 6 inches of soft muck over-laying sand or gravel, but it will not readily establish itself on a hard mineral bottom such as a sand bottom.

Planting Sites

The best stands are located in lakes where there is a flow of water through the lake. The water in protected coves and bays of lakes just outside the zone of cattails and among the water lilies is generally a good spot to plant.

Sowing Conditions

Planting of Wild Rice is achieved by simply casting the seed into the water at the place where it is intended to grow. About 20 pounds of seed are sufficient for an acre of water surface. Once established, the stand of Wild Rice should continue to perpetuate itself.

The best time to plant Wild Rice is immediately after the seeds are harvested. If they are in the proper condition, they will sink to the bottom and germinate. However, if time is lost in planting and the seed dries, it loses its viability within a few days and will likely not germinate.

The seed ripens during the last weeks in August and the first 3 weeks in September.

Wild Rice Harvesting

Here is a great video to show you the operation of wild rice harvesting in today's modern world.