From the farm to your table
Here at Arant Acres, we see to it that our rice makes its way to your table from field to package. ‘Farm to table’ has become an overused phrase, and as a result, may be undervalued. However, our products truly are farm to table. Let’s walk through the process!
Step 1: Prepare the fields
To get the fields prepped for planting, we begin in the fall by working the recently harvested rice fields. Harvested rice leaves quite a bit of straw and residue that must be minimized by burning, disking or decomposing naturally. We do not like to burn fields because many of the nutrients that are so important for the crop are removed through this process. Our favorite method of straw removal is to utilize a large harrow that lays the straw on the ground. Once the straw is on the ground, we dam up the fields for the winter and let the ducks and geese work the straw into the mud and provide additional fertilizer for the soil. Holding the water over the winter helps the straw decompose so all we have to do is plant the fields in the spring.
Step 2: Plant
Depending on the weather, we typically plant rice in April using a tractor and grain drill. We need about five days of good weather to plant our whole crop. If we can’t get good weather for the fields to dry, we can utilize an airplane to distribute rice over the flooded fields for planting. Next, levees are pulled to make different rice patties that will eventually be filled with water. These levees allow for an even flood of water over the whole field. Some of our fields are perfectly flat and don’t require any levees, so all we have to do is dam up the field and flood it.
Step 3: Water
After planting is complete, we typically need one to two rains to get the rice crop up, and it takes a few weeks to see the rice break the surface of the ground. About a month and a half after planting, the fields are flooded, and the water layer helps to prevent weeds from germinating. After the flood is applied to the field, the summer is spent checking the water level in the fields to make sure there is an adequate flood of water. If it is too low, you pray for rain or turn on a pump. On our farm we are blessed to have several large drainage ditches and lakes that provide surface water irrigation throughout the growing season. We do have wells that pull out of a shallow groundwater aquifer, but we try to rely on our surface water wells as much as possible. Preserving our aquifer is one of our top priorities.
Step 4: Harvest
During the months of August and September, we will begin harvesting our rice. We run two combines and both machines will typically harvest 100 acres a day. Corn and bean harvest is about twice as fast as harvesting rice, so everything seems to slow down when the rice harvest starts. Once we harvest our rice, we take it to our grain bins where we dry it down with large fans that have propane burners that blow hot air on the grain to remove the moisture. The grain typically has a harvest moisture of about 20 percent and we dry it until it is around 13 percent. If the grain is not dried, it will spoil in the bins.
Step 5: Mill
We take a portion of the rice we harvest to our mill, which is located on our farm. The first step of the milling process is to remove any remaining straw and insects that could be in the grain. Once this step is complete, the rice is sent through the milling process where we first remove the exterior husk from the grain. Removal of the husk produces brown rice. To produce white rice, the grains are polished by a series of abrasive wheels that remove the rice bran. To make rice grits, the grain is sent through a machine that breaks the grains. People often ask if we bleach our rice to make it white, and I am happy to say we do not do that! I am also not aware of that process occurring in the rice milling process for any mill.
Step 6: Packaging
Once all these processes are complete, we package and ship the rice directly to your doorstep or your local store that features our products.
There you have it–the six-step guide to Delta Blues Rice! With planting complete and the rice crop has emerging from the ground, we are waiting to apply a flood of water for the year. Stay tuned for more pictures on our social media pages as the process continues this season!