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California Rice Farming

Sharon Palmer

I had such an amazing time learning about how rice is grown in California on a farm tour sponsored by USA Rice in the Sacramento Valley. Many people are surprised to learn that the hot, dry climate of the Sacramento Valley is home to a burgeoning rice industry, about 2,500 growers and 5 billion pounds per year strong.  With about 500,000 acres devoted to rice cultivation in the state, it is a major crop, contributing more than $5 billion a year and 25,000 jobs to the state’s economy. If you eat American-grown, Asian style rice, you are eating California rice.

Sacramento Citizen Hotel

Our tour started at the lovely Citizen Hotel, right in the heart of Sacramento, the capital of California. Sacramento is all the heart of agriculture in this bountiful region.

Kru, Sacramento

We enjoyed a delicious meal at KRU, which is focused on traditional Japanese flavors with fresh, local ingredients.

Popped Rice Salad Kru, Sacramento

Our dishes featured locally produced rice, such as this crispy popped rice salad with serpentine cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes.

Vegan Sushi, Kru, Sacramento

This was the best vegan sushi I’ve ever tasted! Toppings included avocados, spicy sprouts, pickles, and tofu.

Tofu with Rice Kru, Sacramento

This beautiful seared tofu was served with crunchy rice. Yum!

Gorgeous Sacramento Valley Rice Farms

The Sacramento Valley has heavy clay soil, which acts as a bathtub to hold water during cultivation, making it a perfect match for rice cultivation.

Rice Ready To Be Harvested

Rice has an interesting history in California, thanks to the arrival of Chinese immigrants who introduced this relatively unknown food to the region, where it has been cultivated for about 100 years.

California Rice

Several varieties of short and medium rice have been developed for the region.

On the Rice Fields

In the spring, soil is amended with fertilizers, fields are flooded thanks to a series of canals, and seeds are air-dropped over the fields, where they grow under constantly flooded conditions until harvest time.

In the Tractor, Harvesting Rice

The fields are drained and rice is machine harvested with a combine and processed in high-tech facilities. After harvest, the fields are flooded again for the winter, during which green compost and native wildlife nourish the soil.

Rice Fresh From the Field

We got to see the rice directly from the field. You can see that it is encased in its hull, and then evaluated for quality.

Look at the amount of rice that California produces—it’s being taken directly from the field to the processing center at Sun Valley Mills located in the Sacramento Valley. If it’s brown rice, the processing is very minimal, but white rice is milled to remove the bran.

Calrose Rice, Sun Valley Mills

Some of the highest quality rice in the world comes out of this location, such as this brand of Calrose rice.

The LaGrande Family, Sun Valley Rice

We got to meet Mr. LaGrande (in the hat), who is the owner of Sun Valley Rice, a family-owned business that stretches back for five generations in rice cultivation in this region.

Sun Valley Brands

These are some of the brands of rice made by Sun Valley, which specializes in short and medium grain rice.

2 thoughts on “California Rice Farming

    • This is a private tour, but you could contact a rice grower in your area to see if they might conduct a tour for you.

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