Wild rice farming in the Sacramento Valley differs markedly from wild rice farming in Minnesota. The most important differences are that Sacramento Valley farmers seed annually and have fewer disease problems than Minnesota producers. Although California's practice of annual reseeding is expensive, it prevents the yield declines which occur in Minnesota, where volunteer wild rice causes overcrowding of plant stands.
Although there are no official USDA estimates of Minnesota’s wild rice area, analysts familiar with the industry agree that the state has nearly twice as much acreage as California. The U.S. produces 10-12 million pounds processed weight of cultivated wild rice annually. Although Minnesota has the larger acreage, production is divided about equally between California and Minnesota.
Wild rice may be either spring- or fall-planted in Minnesota. In California, seeding is done in the spring, except in some of the higher elevations, where planting may also occur in the fall. Annual reseeding in the spring is required in the Sacramento Valley because the paddies do not remain moist over the winter.
The harvest in central Minnesota for 2011 is finished. This year's harvest was described in interviews as fair to poor due to higher water levels in particular during the spring, when the wild rice germinates. The harvested rice converted better than last year, and yields of 48% were reported. Please email us for more information.