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CHAPTER 2. RICE IMPROVEMENT AND CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES

CHAPTER 2. RICE IMPROVEMENT AND CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES

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62



C. ROY ADAIR,



M. D. MILLER, AND H. 1%. BEACHELL



area of origin. Rice is widely distributed throughout tropical, subtropical,

and temperate zones of all continents. Asia produces over 90 per cent of

the total world crop. Communist China, which produced about 160,OOO

million pounds in 1960, leads in total production. North America is the

fourth continent in production, and the United States is second to Brazil

in the Western Hemisphere.

Although the Agricultural Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture,

1960, showed that the average annual wheat production in the United

States was about 13.5 times as much as rice during the 5-year period

1950-1954432,261,730 tons compared with 2,387,350 tons-the world

production of these two important food crops was about equal. The average annual world production of rough rice was 197,962,000 tons compared with 209,400,000 tons of wheat. Since more wheat than rice is used

for animal feed and seed, it is likely that as much rice as wheat is consumed by humans. Rice is the principal item in the diet of most of the

people in southeast Asia and the adjacent islands and in some Latin

American countries.

Rice for food is used primarily as a whole-grain food product although

the by-products from milling are used in other food products and

beverages. During the milling process the hulls, bran, and embryos are

removed. The bran and embryos are used primarily for animal feed.

The whole grain (head rice) and larger pieces of broken grains (second

heads) are used as table rice and processed cereals, the smaller pieces

of broken kernels may be used for cereal products (grits) or ground

into flour, and the smallest pieces of broken kernels (brewers' rice) are

used in the brewing industry.

Highly milled rice is low in protein and vitamins compared with

some cereals. Milled rice does, however, contain 5 to 10 per cent protein

with a good complement of the essential amino acids. Although highly

milled rice is very low in vitamins, parboiled or slightly undermilled

rice contains an appreciable amount of the B complex (Kik and Williams,

1945, p. 60).



B. HISTORY

OF RICEGROWIK'C.

IN THE UNITED

STATES

1. Acreage and Prodtiction

The history of rice growing in the United States and the method of

culture used have been discused by many authors. Some of these are

Copeland ( 1924), Gray and Thompson ( 1941 ) , Efferson ( 1952), Van

Royen (1954), and Beachell (1959). Other authors have discussed

phases or areas of rice culture in the United States. Several of these

papers are referred to throughout this article.

Rice has been grown as a commercial crop in the United States since



RICE IMPROVEMENT AND CULTURE I N UNITED STATES



63



the latter part of the seventeenth century. It was one of the crops the

colonists tried to grow soon after settling at Jamestown, Virginia. Gray

and Thompson (1941) reported that early records of the Virginia colony

mention the intention to plant rice in 1609 and in 1622 a trial planting

was made. Some upland rice for domestic use was grown in North

Carolina and South Carolina before 1680. Successful rice culture was

not established in the colonies until somewhat later than this.

According to Salley (1936), Captain John Thurber, master of a New

England brigantine, put in at Charles Town Harbor sometime prior

to 1686. From him, Dr. Henry Woodward got about a peck of goldhulled seed rice obtained from Madagascar. Dr. Woodward planted the

seed, had a very good yield, and distributed it to his friends for further

planting. By 1690 the production of rice had so advanced that the

planters asked that it be specified as one of the commodities with which

they might pay their quitrents, and by 1700 its production was so great

that there were not enough ships in Charles Town to export it all.

Another version regarding the introduction of rice growing in the

Colonies claims that Governor Langrave T. Smith obtained rice from

a ship sailing from Madagascar that was forced to stop at Charles Town

in 1694. This is probably an embellishment of the facts as it is known

that rice had been in continuous production for several years before that

date. Gray and Thompson (1941, p. 278) stated, “while rice was undoubtedly cultivated in South Carolina before 1694, the various accounts

point to 1694 as a significant date, probably because varieties of superior

quality were introduced which were better adapted to the physical

condition of the Colony than were the varieties previously employed.”

Thus it must be that 1685, a date frequently given, was the approximate

date of the starting of continuous rice culture in the Colonies and that

1694, a date also frequently given, was about the time rice culture was

firmly established.

Rice production data by States are given for 1840, 1850, 1860, and

1870 and acreage and production for each tenth year from 1880 to 1960

in Table I. Holmes (1912) summarized the available rice production

statistics for 1717 to 1911. He reported that the production in 1718 was

over 17 million pounds of rough (paddy) rice, so there were about

12,OOO acres that year as 1350 pounds per acre was about the average

yield. Rice production in the United States has fluctuated from year to

year, and it has been influenced by economic conditions and production

in ather countries and by wars, but data in Table I1 show that the trend

in production has been upward recently. The production in 1960 was

53,363,000 bags of 100 pounds each, or about 300 times the production in

1718. The United States was a net exporter of rice until the Wax between



TABLE I

Acreage and Production of Rice in the United States for Selected Years from 1840 to 1980k

Year



Acreage ;tnd

production



Total



Cal.



Miss.



N.C.



36.04

44.25

0.88

0.26

63.31

158.54

0.64

42.0

0.34

231.88

0.62

0.009

84.4

0.2

1.08

0.07

756.45

8.7

0.02

201.7

71.87

0.09

1,727.32

0.1

264.8

60.0

371.2

3,932.1

1.4

1,080.0

5,746.0

281.0

162.0

175.0

700.0

4,299.3

3,717.9

3,858.8

11,340.0

186.0

110.0

172.0

491.0

4,396.0

3,272.0

3,678.5

8,617.0

291.0

118.0

191.0

469.0

4,248.0

4,315.0

8,442.0

7,490.0

482.0

238.0

342.0

551.0

13,248.0

7,780.0

10,882.0 11,568.0

417.0

288.0

383.0

458.0

12.639.0

13,053.0

12.927.0

13.248.0



7.77

27.20

8.09

3.75

3.50

17.19

1.5

6.77

2.1

7.39

2.8

37.8

3.0

41.8



28.2

605.91

54.66 1,599.3

75.94 1,191.0

323.05

20.59

10.85

78.39

56.09

520.78

42.2

12.2

303.39

58.46

22.3

77.7

78.93

473.60

17.0

1.0

160.8

12.2

7.0

78.8



Ark.



La.



Texas



____I__



1840'A

1850"

1860"

187oC

1880

1890"

1900c



1910

1920

19301

1940f

19509

19SOn



l'rocluction'l

Production

Production

Production

Acrcagei

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreaee

Productionj



808.41

2,153.13

1,871.67

736.35

174.17

1,101.31

161.3

1,285.9

351.3

2,837.23

722.8

11,029.5

1,336.0

23,429.8

959.0

19,934.5

1,069.O

24,495.0

1,620.0

38,889.0

1,595.3

531363.0



0.05

0.63

0.17

0.73



-



-



-



S.C.



7.0

189.0

45.0

1.350.0



_.



-



-



Ga.

123.85

389.50

525.08

222.77

34.97

253.70

18.1

145.58

22.0

111.75

4.0

39.6

4.0

46.8



-



Fla.



Ala.



4.81

1.49

10.75 23.12

2.24

4.93

2.23

4.02

1.58

2.55

12.95

8.11

0.8

1.8

10.12

3.99

23.0

5.4

9.27

22.54

0.9

1.o

8.8

11.2

1.0

3.0

32.4

14.0



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



-



P



E



-



H

3I



l?



Minor production reported in Ky., Tenn., Ill., Mo., \'a.

b Minor Droduction renorted in Tenn., Mo., Va.

c Minor production reported in Tenn.

d Minor production reported in Va.

e Minor iroduction reported in Hawaii and Va.

f Minor production reported in Mo., Miss., S.C., Ga., Fla.,

Ala., N.C.

a



Minor production reported in Mo., S.C., Ill., Tenn., Fla.,

Okla., Ariz., N.C.

h .I000bags ( 100-pound bags).

i 1000 acres, harvested.

j Preliminary report.

k Census Reports 1840-1900; U.S.D.A. Statistics 1910-1960.

g



P



TABLE I1

Annual United States Rice Acreage and Production by States, 195619606

State

Arkansas

Louisiana

Mississippi

Texas

California

Other Statesa

Total

a

b

0



Acreage and

production

Acreage

Productionb

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production

Acreage

Production



1956

391,136

11,178.8

463,137

11,378.9

45,414

1,267.2

416,245

11,083.4

293,511

10,379.1

9,062

188.3

1,618,505

45,475.7



1957

337,246

10,355.4

427,990

10,660.7

33,073

999.8

346,434

10,666.5

231,807

9,602.9

6,678

152.8

1,383,228

42,438.2



1958

340,187

10,907.9

423,864

11,406.1

41,773

1,130.0

381,554

12,284.0

260,940

11,657.2

6,683

182.8

1,455,001

47,568.0



1959

391,901

12,642.9

463,437

12,915.7

45,242

1,355.5

416,054

13,388.0

291,511

11,944.2

8,897

267.5

1,617,052

52,513.8



Includes Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

1000 bags (100-pound bags).

Statistics compiled by the Rice Millers Association, New Orleans, Louisiana.



1960



Average



385,982

12,583.4

462,573

13,161.0

45,139

1,297.7

417,039

13,484.6

288,458

12,921.8

9,226

290.6

1,608,417

53,739.2



369,291

11,533.7

448,200

11,904.5

42,130

1,210.0

395,465

12,181.3

273,246

11,301.0

8,109

216.4

1,536,441

48,347.0



E?

3



2



*



3

2



5

g

2!



9



8

?



h



i



66



C.



ROY ADALR, M. D. MILLER, AND H. M. B E A W L L



the States (1861), but from that time until 1916 this country was a net

importer. This position is now changed and in recent years the United

States has been third or fourth in exports among rice-producing nations.

The major rice-producing area of the United States was in South

Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia until about 1890. During 1884,

1885, and 1886, experimental plantings of rice were made in the prairie

section of southwest Louisiana, using cultural methods and machinery

employed in wheat production in the North Central States. After certain

adjustments and modifications of these machines and methods had been

made, and with irrigation water from streams, rice was grown successfully in this area (Knapp, 18%). Rice production expanded rapidly in

the coastal prairies of southwest Louisiana and adjacent Texas. Production then declined rapidly in the southeastern States. Doar (1936), writing on rice production in South Carolina and the expansion of production in Louisiana, stated, “with these [rice producers in Louisiana], able

to use machinery of all kinds, we could not compete with our system of

hand labor, nor could we produce rice as cheaply as they.”

A limited acreage of rice was grown along rivers in southeast Arkansas

as early as 1840. The crop did not become of importance until rice

growing was started on Grand Prairie in the early 1900’s. According to

Vincenheller ( 1906), experimental plantings were made near Lonoke in

1902, and in 1904, 435 acres were sown and 5535 hundred-pound bags

of rough rice were produced on the 260 acres harvested. The acreage

expanded rapidly so that 60,000 acres were grown in Arkansas in 1910.

Rice was not grown commercially in California until production was

started in the Sacramento Valley about 1912. Chambliss (1912) reported

that successful rice trials were conducted near Butte Creek in 1909.

Starting in 1912, the acreage expanded so rapidly that rice was grown

on 162,000 acres in California in 1920.

Rice was grown along the rivers in Mississippi as early as 1840

(Table I ) , but it was not until 1948, when rice was produced by modern

methods in the Greenville area, that rice became an important crop.

The acreage expanded rapidly to about 79,000 acres in 1954. Because

of the limited history of production, the acreage in Mississippi was

reduced under the National Acreage Control Program to the present

level of about 45,000 acres.

Although rice has been grown in all southeastern States, as well as in

Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arizona, it now is an important commerical crop only in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and

Texas, with minor production in Missouri and the southeastern states.

The annual acreage and production for 1956 to 1960 for each state are

given in Table Ii.



RICE IMPROVEMENT AND CULTURE IN UNITED STATES



67



2. Cultural Methods

Cultural methods used for rice in early times in the Carolinas were

described by Gray and Thompson (1941), Doar (1936), and Allston

(1854, 1855). The first rice was grown in the North American Colonies

without irrigation but experience proved that irrigation throughout the

growing season improved rice yields. A system was developed for irrigating rice along streams influenced by the tide. Hand labor was used to

cbar timber from the land, to dig canals and ditches, and to plow or

work the land with a hoe during the winter. Doar (1936) summarized

a report made in 1850 of cultural methods then practiced by the best

farmers. Rows were laid off in 13-inch centers with a 4-inch trenching

hoe and seed was sown at the rate of 2% to 3 bushels (112 to 135

pounds) an acre. On “low gummy” soils the seed was not covered, but

when soil was well prepared, it was covered. Water was then put on

and held until the grain sprouted, 3 to 6 days after seeding. The water

then was drained. The rice was irrigated and drained four times during

the growing season. This made it possible to hoe and pull weeds and

helped to control insects.

The rice was cut by hand with a sickle, tied in sheaves, conveyed

on “flats” through the canals, and stacked in the barnyard. Some planters

used cradles to cut rice, but this was not a general practice. Some planters

tried to use patent reapers, but this implement was not successful in

the miry fields. When the grain was cured, it was threshed with a flail.

The first mechanical thresher, which was operated by wind power, was

tried in 1811 without success. A horse-powered thresher, introduced

about 1829, was fairly successful and by 1851 steam-powered threshers

that could thresh lo00 bushels a day were available.

Mules and oxen replaced hand labor for seedbed preparation and

hauling the sheaves to the flats, but much hand labor continued to be

used in the “Carolina Low Country” until rice culture was discontinued.

Production methods used in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas

in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are described by

Knapp (1899, 1900, 1910) and Bond and Keeney ( 1902). The best rice

soil was considered to be a “medium loam” with about 50 per cent clay,

underlain by an impervious subsoil. The fields were divided by small

canals into subfields of “suitable” size, with a small levee on the border of

each subfield. Each subfield was leveled so that the depth of irrigation

water was uniform. The land was plowed, usually with a 2-gang, 10-inch

moldboard plow. Sometimes plowing was done in the late fall or in

the winter, but usually it was done in ‘the earIy spring. Plowing was

followed in a short time by disking and then by harrowing. Seeding was



68



C. ROY ADAIR, M. D. MILLER, AND H. M. BEACHELL



done from mid-March to mid-May, but April seeding was considered

the best. Seeding with a grain drill was recommended, but much rice was

sown with a broadcast seeder and covered with a harrow. The seeding

rate was 45 to 135 pounds per acre. When the soil was dry at seeding

time, it was flooded and drained immediately so that the seed would

sprout. The rice was imgated when the plants were 6 to 8 inches tall.

The depth of water was 3 to 6 inches, and to avoid stagnation, water

was renewed by continuous inflow and out0ow. The fields were drained

about 10 days before the rice was ready to harvest. This allowed the

soil to dry and become firm enough so the rice could be cut with a binder.

Ten sheaves then were placed in a well-capped shock. As soon as the

straw was cured and the grain was dry, it was threshed with a steampowered thresher. The grain was put in large burlap bags, usually about

185 pounds to a bag, and placed in a warehouse or hauled directly to

the mill.

Except for gradual improvements in the machinery and in irrigation

systems, there apparently were no major changes in cultural methods

from 1900 to about 1920. The use of tractors and gasoline-powered

binders had become fairly common by about 1918. Soon after that, the

power take-off-operated binder, which was a big improvement over the

bullwheel and gasoline engine-powered binder, was perfected. As

larger tractors and more efficient equipment were built, it was possible

to time better and otherwise improve culture practices. The binderthresher method of harvesting continued for many years. The first

change from this method was in about 1929 when “swathers” and pick-up

combines were used to harvest rice in California. At about this time,

studies were started by Smith et al. (1933) and Bainer ( 1932) to determine whether it would be possible to harvest rice with a combine. The

extensive research that has been done in this field since about 1930 was

reviewed and summarized by Dachtler (1959). The combine harvester

is now universally used to harvest rice in the United States. To maintain

the milling quality, rice must be harvested when it is too moist to be

stored. With direct combine harvesting has come postharvest artificial

drying of rice. Drying is done in farm or commercial drying plants.

Bainer et al. (1955) reported that rice is produced in California with

7 9 man-hours per acre, as compared with 900 man-hours in Japan, where

much hand labor is used.

11.



Rice Culture in the United States



A. SOIL~ ~ CLIMATIC

i

i

REQUIREMENTS

Rice generally is grown on silt loam, silty clay, and clay soils

although it can be grown on all types of soils. It sometimes is grown on



RICE IMPROVEMENT AND CULTURE IN UNITED STATES



69



organic soils (Green, 1956), and sandy loams are often used. Satisfactory

rice soils must have an impervious stratum within 2 to 5 feet of the

surface or the texture must be fine enough to reduce water percolation

so that seepage is reduced. Because of excessive percolation losses, rice

grown on open permeable soil may require two to three times as much

water as rice of comparable yield grown on "rice" soil. The surface of

the soil must be level so that a uniform depth of about 6 inches of water

can be maintained with a minimum number of levees, yet with enough

slope so that surface water can be drained for seedbed preparation and

harvest.

Rice requires a relatively long, frost-free growing period. The optimum

growing period for United States varieties is 105 to 170 days. The range

of air temperature for rice production is about 70°F. minimum to

about 95" maximum. Ormrod (1961) showed that CALORO rice seedlings

maintain an appreciable net photosynthetic rate at low air temperature

(40" or 60" ) and a wide range of light intensities. Low light intensities

at a higher temperature (80' ) resulted in net losses of carbon dioxide

from the plants. Rice often is considered to be a tropical crop, although

it is grown throughout the tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones

from the equator to nearly 50" latitude. The range in the United States

is from the Gulf Coast (30"N) to about mid-United States (40"N).

The yields generally are higher in the temperate than in the more tropical

areas. This difference may be due partly to varieties grown, but climate

and soil contribute to this difference.



B. CROPPING

SYSTEMS

The riceland cropping systems now used in the United States have

evolved over the years. These systems are based on experience of

growers and information gained from controlled experiments. The cropping system used depends on the soil type and climatic conditions. In

most rice-producing areas of the United States, crop rotation is followed

because, if cropped continuously, the soil usually becomes depleted

in fertility, the organic content becomes so low that the deteriorating

physical conditions make seedbed preparation difficult. The soil also

becomes progressively infested with weeds that lower the yield and

quality of the rice.

In the early years in the Carolinas, rice was grown continuously in

the same field, with occasional rest, according to Gray and Thompson

( 1941). Rice fields in that area were sometimes planted to oats in the

fall, followed by potatoes the next year. Some farmers made a practice

of growing rice and cotton on alternate years. This helped to control

the weeds in both crops. In the South Central States, the fields were



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