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How to Grow Rice: Planting, Care, Harvesting; Here is What IRRI Says

Rice is generally grown using two direct seeding and transplanting. Additionally, there are several other things to be taken care of for the high yield of rice. So, let's discuss it in detail below.

Vivek Singh
Effective tips to grow rice (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)
Effective tips to grow rice (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)

Rice cultivation offers two primary planting methods: direct seeding, where seeds are directly sown in the field, and transplanting, where seedlings are nurtured in seedbeds before being transplanted to the field. The choice of the appropriate planting method should take into account factors such as the location, soil type, rice ecosystem, and the availability of resources and labour.

The timing of planting is a critical factor in establishing a successful crop in the field. Optimal results are achieved by planting in a timely manner into a well-prepared seedbed. This approach promotes the growth of a uniform and fast-growing crop, resulting in higher yields and improved resistance against weeds and pests. The ideal planting time varies based on factors such as the location, rice variety, weather conditions, water availability, and the desired harvest time. Coordinating planting with neighbouring fields, preferably within a two-week timeframe, can reduce the pressure from insects, diseases, birds, and rodents on individual fields.

Varieties of Rice

Rice comes in a wide variety of types, each with its own unique characteristics, flavours, and culinary uses. Here are some common varieties of rice from around the world:

  1. Long-Grain Rice:

  • Basmati Rice: Fragrant long-grain rice known for its aroma and delicate flavour, commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

  • Jasmine Rice: Another aromatic long-grain rice, particularly popular in Southeast Asian dishes, such as Thai cuisine.

  • American Long-Grain Rice: Commonly used in the United States for dishes like pilaf and as a side dish.

2. Medium-Grain Rice:

  • Calrose Rice: A medium-grain rice commonly used in sushi and other Asian dishes.

  • Bomba Rice: Used to make traditional Spanish paella due to its ability to absorb liquids and flavors.

3. Short-Grain Rice:

  • Arborio Rice: Used for making creamy Italian risotto.

  • Sushi Rice (Sumo Rice): A short-grain rice used for sushi and other Japanese dishes.

4. Brown Rice Varieties:

  • Brown Basmati: Whole-grain variety of Basmati rice with a nutty flavor.

  • Brown Jasmine: Whole-grain version of Jasmine rice.

  • Wehani Rice: A nutty and aromatic brown rice variety.

5. Specialty Rice:

  • Black Rice (Forbidden Rice): A dark-coloured rice with a nutty flavor and high nutritional value.

  • Red Rice: Reddish-brown rice with a nutty flavour, often used in Mediterranean and Asian dishes.

  • Bhutanese Red Rice: A red rice from Bhutan, known for its nutty taste and health benefits.

  • Carnaroli Rice: Another Italian short-grain rice used for making creamy risotto.

Best Ways To Plant Rice Seeds

Planting rice seeds requires careful preparation and attention to detail to ensure a successful crop. Here are seven steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Selecting the Rice Variety:

Choose a rice variety that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Factors to consider include temperature, water availability, and soil type. Consult with local agricultural experts or extension services for recommendations.

  1. Preparing the Seedbed:

Rice seeds are typically started in a seedbed before being transplanted to the main field. Prepare the seedbed by plowing, harrowing, and leveling the soil. The seedbed should have good water control to ensure consistent moisture.

  1. Seed Treatment:

Before sowing, treat the rice seeds to prevent diseases and increase germination rates. This may involve soaking the seeds in water, applying fungicides, or using other seed treatments recommended for your region.

  1. Sowing the Seeds:

Broadcast the rice seeds evenly over the prepared seedbed. You can do this by hand or using a mechanical seeder. Aim for the recommended seeding rate based on your rice variety and local guidelines.

  1. Water Management:

Maintain proper water levels in the seedbed. Initially, the seedbed should be kept flooded with shallow water (about 2-5 cm deep) to encourage germination. Gradually reduce the water level as the seedlings grow, transitioning to a "dry nursery" stage with moist but not flooded soil.

  1. Weed Control:

Keep the seedbed free of weeds that can compete with the rice seedlings for nutrients and sunlight. Manual weeding or the use of herbicides may be necessary, depending on your chosen cultivation method.

  1. Transplanting:

When the rice seedlings are 3-4 weeks old and have developed a few leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to the main rice field. Transplanting should be done carefully to avoid damaging the delicate seedlings. Space the seedlings appropriately according to the recommended planting density for your variety.

How to Care for Rice Grains?

Here are some steps you can take to ensure the health of your growing rice:

1. Maintain a consistently moist soil environment. Regularly check and add water to keep the soil submerged. Initially, aim to maintain a water level approximately two inches above the soil during the early growth stages, and as the rice stalks reach a height of over six inches, increase the water level to around four inches. It's crucial to prevent the soil from drying out.

2. Ensure adequate warmth for your rice seeds. If the nights become chilly, consider relocating your plants indoors or covering them to retain heat.

3. Keep an eye out for any weeds that may sprout. Since rice cultivation spans several months, weeds can emerge during this period. Be diligent about removing these weeds to maintain a clear space for your rice to thrive.

Effective Tips for Harvesting Rice

Harvesting rice is a critical stage in rice cultivation that requires precision and care to ensure a successful and bountiful yield. Here are five tips for harvesting rice:

  1. Timing is Key:

Harvesting rice at the right time is crucial for optimal yield and grain quality. Rice is typically ready for harvest when the grains have turned golden or amber in color and the moisture content is around 20-25%. This is usually 30-45 days after flowering, but it can vary depending on the rice variety and local conditions. Monitor your crop closely to determine the best harvest time.

  1. Use the Right Tools:

Traditional rice harvesting tools include sickles or scythes, but mechanical rice harvesters are commonly used today for larger-scale operations. Ensure that your tools are sharp and well-maintained to prevent damage to the rice plants and grains during harvesting.

  1. Cut Stalks Properly:

When using a sickle or mechanical harvester, cut the rice stalks carefully to avoid damaging the grains. Make clean cuts close to the ground, leaving some stubble behind. This stubble helps with soil conservation and prevents soil erosion.

  1. Gather and Bundle:

After cutting the rice stalks, gather them into bundles or sheaves. These bundles are typically tied together with twine or rice straw to facilitate handling and transportation. Ensure that the bundles are uniform in size and well-tied to prevent grain loss.

  1. Drying and Threshing:

Once the rice is harvested and bundled, it needs to be dried to reduce moisture content further. Lay the bundles out in the sun to dry for several days, turning them regularly to ensure even drying. Afterward, use a threshing machine or traditional threshing methods to separate the grains from the stalks and husks.

Remember that the specific techniques and equipment used for rice harvesting can vary depending on local traditions, the rice variety, and the scale of cultivation. It's essential to adapt these tips to your specific conditions and seek guidance from experienced farmers or agricultural experts in your area for the best results. Properly harvested rice will store well and provide you with a valuable food source or crop for sale.

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