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What Is Rice Sheath Blight: Treating Sheath Blight Of Rice

By Teo Spengler

Anyone growing rice needs to learn the basics about diseases that affect this grain. One particularly destructive disease is called rice sheath blight. What is rice sheath blight? What causes rice sheath blight? Click here to get answers to your questions.

What Is Rice Straighthead: Treating Rice With Straighthead Disease

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

In the United States, straighthead disease of rice has been a significant problem since rice crops were first grown in the early 1900s. It appears that although arsenic is partly to blame, there are other factors as well. Click here for more information.

Rice Leaf Smut Info – How To Treat Leaf Smut Of Rice Crops

By Mary Ellen Ellis

Rice may not be a typical backyard garden plant, but if you live somewhere soggy, it can be a great addition. Diseases can ransack your rice paddy, though, so be aware of signs of infections like leaf smut of rice and what to do to manage or treat it. Learn more here.

What Is Rice Sheath Rot: How To Recognize Rice Black Sheath Rot Symptoms

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Rice is one of the most important crops in the world. So when rice has a disease, it is serious business. Such is the problem with sheath rot of rice. What is rice sheath rot? Click here for diagnostic information and advice on treating rice sheath rot in the garden.

Kernel Smut Of Rice Crops: How To Treat Rice Kernel Smut

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Whether growing a field of rice crops or just a few rice plants in the garden, you may at some point come across some kernel smut of rice. What is this and how can you alleviate the problem? Click the following article to learn more.

Rice Stem Rot Control – A Guide To Treating Rice Stem Rot Disease

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

As yield losses continue to rise from stem rot in rice, new studies are being conducted to find effective methods of rice stem rot control and treatment. Click this article to learn what causes rice stem rot, as well as suggestions for treating rice stem rot in the garden.

Signs Of Rice Blast Disease: Learn About Rice Blast Treatment

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Who doesn’t like rice? It's easy and quick to prepare, it's delicious and nutritious, and it's inexpensive. However, a serious disease known as rice blast has caused devastating crop losses throughout North America and other rice producing countries. Learn more here.

What Is Rice Brown Leaf Spot – Treating Brown Spots On Rice Crops

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Brown leaf spot rice is one of the most serious diseases that can affect rice. It usually begins with leaf spot on young leaves and, if not treated properly, it can decrease yield substantially. If you’re growing a crop of rice, this article can help.

Growing Rice At Home: Learn How To Grow Rice

By Amy Grant

Rice is one of the oldest and most revered foods on the planet. Rice requires tons of water plus hot, sunny conditions to grow. This makes planting rice impossible in some areas but you can grow your own rice at home, sort of. Click here to learn more.


Cultivating And Harvesting Wild Rice

Author: Marlene Affeld // Last updated on January 28, 2021 4 Comments

Wild rice (Zizania palustris) is known as the “caviar of grains.” Contrary to its name, wild rice is actually the seeds of wetland grass. Other common names include water oats, Canadian rice, marsh oats, and blackbird oats.

A native, aquatic, ancient cereal grain that grows in isolated riverbeds, marshes, and shallow lakes across North America, wild rice flourishes in areas of fresh or brachial water. Wild rice sprouts up from a bed of nutritionally-rich alluvial mud. In fact, wild rice is one of only two grains native to North America and is the state grain of Minnesota.

What dish would you add this wild rice to? Whitney / Flickr (Creative Commons)

By the height of summer, the grass stalk will have grown up to 10 to 12 feet above the water line. From this sturdy, woody, stem, 4-foot tall spikes emerge from the grass stalk. As the spikes mature, fruit heads appear as yellowish-green flowers. As the flowers develop, they turn a dark purple thick with seeds. Beneath the fruit head, three small antlers dance like feathers in the wind.

As the seeds mature, they fall in the water where they rest in mud until germinating and renewing the growth process in the spring. Wild rice, also known as Indian Rice, is also native to areas of Asia that provide similar ecological conditions.


How a South Carolina Farmer Is Adapting an Heirloom Rice to Withstand Climate Change

Rollen Chalmers is the ‘quiet force’ behind a renewed interest in heirloom rice while contending with encroaching saltwater, invasive weeds—and alligators.

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“When I was a kid, my parents were growing no rice all the rice had vanished,” says Hardeeville, South Carolina horticulturist Rollen Chalmers with a soft lilt to his voice. Though the generations-deep Gullah tradition of growing rice had faded by the time Chalmers was growing up, he tapped into his family’s experience later in life.

Chalmers is now what Glenn Roberts, founder of the South Carolina grain company Anson Mills, calls a “quiet force” behind the food revival of the Sea Islands and, in particular, the renewed interest in heirloom rices. Though his face and name are largely absent from documentaries about the subject, Chalmers is responsible for developing many acres of the grain, “from north of Hilton Head Island down into Georgia,” Roberts says. All along the way, he’s been restoring habitat and heritage.

Some of Chalmers’s most important work happens on 30 marshy acres at the Turnbridge Plantation, one of hundreds of 18th-century estates that enabled white Southerners to build vast fortunes off the backbreaking, often deadly labor of enslaved men, women, and children from West Africa’s “rice coast” countries.

In the 1980s, the plantation’s then-new owner rematriated long-lost, long-grained Carolina Gold rice. Today on the property, Chalmers conducts trials on seed varietals and planting methods that can fight off salt intrusion and invasive weeds, as well as provide delicious flavor to eaters. Roberts says these trials are necessary to bring rice-growing into the future. “With sea level rise, we’re going to have to switch to salt-tolerant rice husbandry,” he said. “Already we’re looking at what we can save from these low areas, and it’s not what we’ll be growing there in 10 years.”

Chalmers has also planted other rices around the Lowcountry, including Carolina Gold’s shorter, less-fragrant cousin, Charleston Gold, on the site of the former Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah. Some of those crops are earmarked for local chefs, to boost appreciation of rice culture.

Next year, he’s also hoping to plant trials of upland red bearded rice, the ancient West African variety recently rediscovered in Trinidad.

Civil Eats spoke to Chalmers in late July about re-forging a link to his own rice-growing history, trying to drum up enthusiasm for heritage grains among a sometimes blasé populace, and what’s challenging about growing rice.

What are some hurdles to growing rice in the Lowcountry?

Working out good rice is always a challenge. You have to worry about water. You don’t have access to fresh river water like back in the days my great-grandparents were farming. Back then, you had canals that came from the Savannah River, and everyone had access, with a ditch cut into their property. Now you got to pump water.

Salt’s another problem here. We got freshwater rivers, but my fields are right on the marshes. With Hurricane Matthew [in 2016], two feet of saltwater came across the embankments. Rice will not tolerate the least bit of salt. I usually plant 30 acres at Turnbridge, but the fields are flooded now to get that salt out, so I planted up a seven-acre field this year.

You could have a super good crop, but once rice lays down [in a hurricane], it’s not gonna come back up and it’s hard to harvest, even with modern machines.

And then of course you’ve got live alligators in those fields. They lay out there all day in that fresh water, and there’s water moccasins, copperheads, all these different snakes hanging out catching frogs and mice. When you plant, you got to be real careful and watch where you’re stepping. It’s beautiful in these marshes, rivers, and creeks, but a lot of things lurk in these waters.

And yesterday, we were looking at 105 degrees, really choking, wet-hot heat—real Southern living. This is no joke growing rice the way I grow it is the real deal, just like it was happening in the 1760s.

Is growing rice something your family did?

Both my parents were always farming, and their parents farmed, too. I pawned that off from them. My mother would tell me how they would grow Carolina Gold rice [when she was younger] and cut it and thrash it and mill it themselves, the old way. It was a whole different deal than what’s going on now.

Kids back then played a big role. Parents would grow it, and kids would go in and cut it, get it in the house, clean it up, and get some of it over to the mill. The mill was right down the road you would take it to these people to mill it up and give them some of the harvest. But that was long gone before I was born. When I was a kid, all that rice had vanished.

How did you learn to grow it, then?

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How to Grow Rice

Last Updated: March 17, 2021 References Approved

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Rice comes in long-grain, medium- and short-grain textures. It grows easily in your backyard, in a garden bed or in buckets, given the right amount of soil, water, and other nutrients. Short-grain, medium-grain and long-grain rice thrive in wet conditions, specifically standing puddles of water or swamp-like conditions. Once the rice grains develop, the water in which they grow must drain so that you can harvest and mill the crop. After the harvesting and milling processes, you can eat the rice.


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