Richters InfoSheet D8620  

Wild Rice Planting Instructions

The ideal time to plant wild rice seed is in the fall before the first frost or shortly after. Spring planting is risky at best since the seed must go through an extended cold dormancy period in order to germinate. The seed must be kept moist and free af mold before planting. Seed will die if it dries out.

Wild rice must be in water for most of its growing season, generally April through August. The ideal water depth is 45cm/l8in although it may thrive in water as shallow as l0 cm/4 in or as deep as l.5 m/5 ft. Soil and water pH levels should be acidic, ideally between 3.5 and 6.8. Broadcast the seed by hand along the shore or from a boat. The good seed should sink to the bottom immediately. Sowing at the rate of 65 kg/30 lbs per acre should yield a good first year crop.

The seed should be under water when it germinates in the spring, usually once the water temperature climbs to 4 degrees C (40 degrees F). One month after germination, leaves will appear at the surface of the water. A constant water level during this FLOATING LEAF STAGE is important because the root system is still developing and these very buoyant plants may be uprooted by rapidly rising water. The wave action caused by severe winds may also damage the plants. During the month long floating leaf stage the stalk and roots enlarge. When this growth period is complete, aerial leaves are produced and the plant rapidly develops to the mature height of 1.8-2.7 m/6-9 ft. Ponds that dry up after mid-July may still be able to support wild rice if the water table remains close to the soil surface. Livestock, black birds and muskrat can be pests. Also troublesome are certain aquatic weeds: equisetum (horsetail rush/joint grass), sparganium (bur-reed), cattails and milfoil.

Wild rice is an annual plant and should be allowed to reseed itself for next year’s crop. Finished or processed wild rice is no longer viable as seed.


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