The United States produces only about one half of the rice that it
consumes. There is no satisfactory reason for our not raising more of
this staple crop, for five great states along the Gulf of Mexico are
well adapted to its culture.
There are two distinct kinds of rice, upland rice and lowland rice.
Upland rice demands in general the same methods of culture that are
required by other cereals, for example, oats or wheat. The growing of
lowland rice is considerably more difficult and includes the necessity
of flooding the fields with water at proper times.
A stiff, half-clay soil with some loam is best suited to this crop. The
soil should have a clay subsoil to retain water and to give stiffness
enough to allow the use of harvesting-machinery. Some good rice soils
are so stiff that they must be flooded to soften them enough to admit of
plowing. Plow deeply to give the roots ample feeding-space. Good
tillage, which is too often neglected, is valuable.
Careful seed-selection is perhaps even more needed for rice than for any
other crop. Consumers want kernels of the same size. Be sure that your
seed is free from red rice and other weeds. Drilling is much better
than broadcasting, as it secures a more even distribution of the seed.
The notion generally prevails that flooding returns to the soil the
needed fertility. This may be true if the flooding-water deposits much
silt, but if the water be clear it is untrue, and fertilizers or
leguminous crops are needed to keep up fertility. Cowpeas replace the
lost soil-elements and keep down weeds, grasses, and red rice.
Red rice is a weed close kin to rice, but the seed of one will not
produce the other. Do not allow it to get mixed and sowed with your rice
seed or to go to seed in your field.
Next: The Timber Crop