Wetlands Rice Variety Trials

There is great potential for small-scale, organic rice production on marginal wetlands using agro-ecological practices. The purpose of this project is to trial three proven rice varieties in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and southern Canada, testing for regional adaptation.
Description

In collaboration with Erik Andrus, the prolific rice grower in Vermont, the Experimental Farm Network is excited to announce this wetlands rice variety trials project. The project goal is to test three rice varieties: Nanatsuboshi, Oborozuki, and Omirt.

We are interested in trialing these rice varieties in the following locations:

Minnesota
Wisconsin
Illinois
Indiana
Michigan
Ohio
Pennsylvania
New Jersey
New York
Southern Ontario
Southern Quebec
Southern New Bruswick
Nova Scotia
Vermont
New Hampshire
Maine
Connecticut
Rhode Island
Massachusetts
W. Virginia
Maryland
Delaware
 
Erik Andrus operates an experimental wet rice farm in Vermont.  His main focus is developing food-producing wetland systems on marginal land to address the challenges of community food self-reliance in a shifting climate. He has 5.5 acres of rice paddies, the largest wet rice system in the Northeast, and grows organically using ducks for weeding following an established Japanese method. Rice systems are relatively adaptive to warming trends in areas with adequate fresh water (which his farm has). Erik has been doing this for 8 years, and he regularly speaks about rice systems, works with trainees and volunteers, and collaborates with other growers, etc.

Rice grows well in various soil types, and can grow in moderately fertile soils. The most critical factor in rice production is daylight sensitivity. If a particular rice variety is ill-adapted to the sunlight hours of a given region, this will be readily apparent.

The purpose of this project is to inspire more people to try growing rice, and trial 3 rice varieties proven to succeed in the Northeast, in multiple locations throughout the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in the United States, and neighboring regions in eastern Canada.

We will ask growers to take a modest amount data on their plants. All you need to participate is a kiddie pool!

Prospective growers are encouraged to read the Akaogi rice growing manual found here:

http://www.ricenortheasternus.org/documents/2008grant-sare/Rice%20Growing%20Manual.pdf

Researcher background
Erik Andrus operates an experimental wet rice farm in Vermont. His main focus is developing food producing wetland systems on marginal land to address the challenges of community food self-reliance in a shifting climate. He has 5.5 acres of rice paddies, the largest wet rice system in the Northeast, and grows organically using ducks for weeding, following an established Japanese method. Erik has been doing this for 8 years, and he regularly speaks about rice systems, works with trainees and volunteers, collaborates with other growers, etc.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
How many volunteers do you need?
20
What will you ask volunteers to do?
Volunteers will be responsible for a small grow-out of 1-3 rice varieties in a kiddie pool "paddy." A modest amount of data collection will be required. The primary goal is to see if a successful rice crop can be grown, given the location's day length situation. Output per rice plant will need to be calculated (instructions will be provided).

It would be wonderful if growers wanted to try all three rice varieties in three separate kiddie pools next to each other. However, if you just want to trying growing one or two varieties, we will be grateful for that as well.

Planting instructions:

Pre-germinate seeds around April 15th-20th by soaking for 2-4 days in cold water. For this, simply leave the seeds in water outside. For the next 36-48 hours, keep the seed indoors in 70-80 degree water (once a day replace the water with new, hot water, as hot as 95 degrees).

Next, plant germinated seeds into transplanting cells or in open flats, with the first shoot up (this is the first leaf). Grow in full sunlight in a frost protected growing environment. Lack of water or freezing will kill the plants, but sustained very cold (under 50) or very hot (over 85) temperatures will also harm them. The closer to 70 degrees the better. Unlike other transplants, the rice seedlings can be kept watered by sitting the trays or flats of cells in a reservoir of water, i.e., giving them permanent "wet feet." The nursery period lasts about 5-6 weeks, by which time the rice shoots will have three true leaves and are ready to transplant (early June, sometimes late May)

To create a kiddie pool "paddy:" Fill plastic kiddie pool with 4" of fertile soil or mix of soil and compost similar to what you would grow vegetables in. Tamp down and level well. Add water to cover all soil, with about 2" of water above the soil line. Then transplant your seedlings into the soil on a 10" grid (plants spaced 10" apart, in rows 10" apart). As the plants grow the depth of the water can be increased to 4" but never let it dry up until August. Put in a sunny spot. Weed if necessary. Rice will flower beginning in late July / early August and the flowers will develop into grain. Harvest when 80-90% of the rice grains look brownish and grain is at the hard dough stage, fairly hard and crumbly when you bite a grain. (Late September / early October) Cut the stalks off at the base, tie in bundles, and dry thoroughly in a place where birds and mice can't reach them. Thoroughly dry rice grains will crunch on your teeth, like store-bought rice. When it reaches this stage, "thresh" your rice by beating the stalks, holding onto the stems, into a trash can or large plastic tote until the grain falls off into the can.

We will ask the volunteer growers to take a modest amount of data. This will include your growing zone, date germination process started, date that seed is placed in potting soil treys, date transplanted to field, date of first flower, and harvest date. We also will need the total number of the plants grown, the area size it was grown in, and the final weight after the rice dries.

A google form will be sent to fill out at the end of the season.
Other requirements of volunteers?
Some gardening/growing experience is ideal.
Is this a multi-year project?
Maybe
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course
Researcher Location

55423
United States