Ode to the rice farmer

Ode to the rice farmer, 2011 California Rice Farming

This week I thought that it would be interesting to look at the rice production in the US. This quick look will actually be narrower than the whole of the US in that I am using material exclusively from the Sacramento Valley in California. However, many of the themes will be true for the US and are in stark contrast to what we often see related to rice for sake, our primary interest.

I have been watching the youtube channel RiceNews for a couple of years now and find it to be very interesting. All of the videos here have been selected from their offerings.

While the rice farming families in the US can’t go as far back as those of Japan can, many of those in the Sacramento Valley go back to the beginning of California production.

In the following, I have pulled together views into each stage of rice growing. There was nothing on drying, husking, milling and bagging so that is a missing piece. Maybe I can fill that in some time in the future.

The first thing that needs to be done is to prepare the fields. They may have filled up with water from the rains or have been planted with cover crops but in any case they need to be readied for rice planting.

First prepare the equipment and get ready for precision leveling:

Next drain the land and get it ready and plow and precision level the fields:

It’s the soil:

Seeding the fields:


Just after seeding:

The rice fields serve migrating birds too:


40 day old rice plants:


An old timer speaks of his experience:


Organic Japanese short grain rice in California:


Midpoint of the rice season (Mid July):


August rice status:



Prepare for harvest:


Prepare the harvest equipment:




Premium short grain Akita Komachi rice being harvested at Gorrill Ranch in Nelson, Butte County.


Nicole Van Vleck of Montna Farms near Yuba City describes the start of the 2011 rice harvest and what happens to fields once the grain is removed.


Action from the westside of Colusa County during the 2011 California rice harvest.


Action shot of rice going from a bankout wagon to the grain trailer during harvest in Colusa County.


Oct 14


Trailer of rice:


Preparing bags for shipping:


California rice going to Japan:

Rice loading of a shipment of California rice bound for Japan. The total amount loaded into the ship exceeded 12,000 metric tons.

Organic rice has been shipped to Japan for organic sake.

Heavy use of technology in US rice production:


This next video is repeated from earlier:

I hope you have found this to be interesting. I would like to have a comparable page done for Japanese table rice production and one for sake rice production. While these may not be completely different I think being able to see the differences and similarities side by side would be wonderful. However, I don’t know of any repository of information that would make this possible now. Perhaps, we will have this sometime soon.



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