It seems like just yesterday it was April. We were out in the field planting the acres and acres of rice that we are now harvesting. Since planting season, we’ve pulled levees, flooded the fields, kept an eye on the water levels to ensure there is an adequate floodwater, prayed for rain and prayed for it to stop. All of those things have brought us here—harvest time.
Usually, during August and September, we fire up our combines and begin cutting rice. We run two combines and both machines will harvest about 100 total acres a day in the rice fields. From start to finish, it typically takes anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks to harvest our whole crop, depending on the weather, of course. Corn and bean harvest is about twice as fast as rice, so everything seems to slow down when we start with the rice.
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 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.
When all is said and done, we rest before we have to get back out there to prep the fields for the next planting season. Harvested rice leaves quite a bit of straw and residue that must be minimized by burning, disking or decomposing naturally. We don’t 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.
Want to learn more about how Delta Blues Rice gets from our fields to your table? Check out another one of our blog posts that outlines each step.