rcular 5 May, 1918
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DIVISION OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING
P. H. ROLFS, Director
BY A. P. SPENCER
Rice is grown to some extent in nearly every county in Florida.
he acreage reported for 1916 was 1153. or an average of ap-
roximately 21 acres for each county. There is a much larger
rea suitable for growing rice in this State and because of the
resent need and high prices for all grains and food crops it
becomes necessary to make every possible effort to grow at least
efficient grain crops to supply Florida's needs. Rice may be
sed as a grain feed for all kinds of livestock and can be used in
lace of other grains and feeds that are being supplied to the
south for livestock, poultry, and human food. It is therefore
advisable to plant the greatest possible acreage of rice, even
against the possibility of a light crop or a partial failure.
The best crops of rice are produced on moist lands. The lands
ost suitable are:
Better grades of flatwoods; that is, where the soil is fairly
compact, dark in color and has a fairly retentive subsoil of clay
Sandy muck lands having a large proportion of sand in the
Low hammock lands where drainage is provided to take off the
Drained prairies or lake bottoms that are provided with
itches to take off surplus water;
River bottom land where the overflow from the banks of the
river can escape so that the water will not become stagnant.
Such lands are usually selected for growing truck crops and
,specially Irish potatoes, so wherever drainage has been pro-
rided to make these lands safe for truck crops one may be fairly
afe in planting them to rice after the truck crops are harvested.
Whatever type of land is selected for rice culture it must
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be well prepared before- the seed is planted. A good seed b
free from grass or weeds is just as important for rice as f
corn. The rice must get a good start ahead of weeds and mo
especially Maiden cane, Joint grass and Bermuda.
Rice is a satisfactory crop in many places where the land
too wet for corn, beans, peanuts and various legumes. From
to 40 bushels per acre are reported by farmers who planted
on such lands.
Wherever the water stands on the surface several days at
time and becomes stagnant, drainage must be provided to carr
off the surplus water if a good crop of rice is to be grown. I
the irrigated rice fields of Louisiana a flow of water is turned
on the rice when it is six to eight inches high, and is kept u
until a short time before harvest, when the water is turned o
so that the field may become firm enough for the teams and haz
vesting machinery. The water is turned on at the highest point
in the field and the outlet located at the lowest point, so that th
water flows continuously and never becomes stagnant.
The rice planters of South Carolina turn the water on 4 t
6 days immediately after the grain is planted which remains until
the seed is sprouted. The watering is repeated two or there
times but is always taken off before it stagnates. Standing water
is especially injurious to the varieties of rice grown in Florida
so that poorly drained muck ponds or low lands having no outle
seldom grow good crops of rice until sufficient drainage is pro
In Florida irrigation has not been practiced for rice culture
as the crop has not been produced on a commercial scale.
Rice is a surface feeder. Its root system is shallow and fibrous
It uses more moisture than most cereal crops while growing sc
that good crops are seldom made on the high rolling sandy lands
or even on drained muck lands where the soil is loose and open
Rice may be sown broadcast or seeded with a grain drill jusi
the same as oats are planted. It is preferable to plant in row,
3 to 4 feet apart to allow for cultivation. If sown broadcast ii
will require about six pecks of seed per acre, but if planted ir
31/2-foot rows about three pecks of seed per acre will be required
If the land has natural drainage it is best to plant on the level.
Circular 5, Rice Culture
ut if planted on very flat land where the drainage is slow or
sufficient it may be advisable to plant on drills made 6 to 10
inches high. Unnecessarily high drills should be avoided as they
nake the crop more difficult to cultivate and these drills will
ry out more readily should there be a shortage of rainfall.
The seed should be covered two or three inches deep. It does
ot sprout as readily as other grains so it should be put into
The season for planting extends from April to June. Early
lantings are likely to produce better crops than June plantings.
however, rice produces a good crop after Irish potatoes or spring
vegetable's, which may delay the planting until June.
When planted in wide rows the crop should be cultivated to
eep down weeds and hasten the growth when the plants are
mall. After heavy rains or if the soil has packed a deep culti-
ator may be used to loosen the soil, otherwise shallow cultiva-
ion is best.
Since rice is usually grown on the richer soils it is seldom
necessary to apply any fertilizer except when planted on flat-
oods sandy lands that have been leached of most of the avail-
ble plant foods. On sand flats or the poorer grades of flatwoods
satisfactory crop is seldom produced unless fertilized, inasmuch
s these lands have almost no available plant food left. On such
lands the rice usually makes a stunted growth and turns yellow.
These lands may be improved for rice culture by drainage and
plowing under cover crops to enrich the soil. Lands that have
been planted to Irish potatoes or winter truck crops are usually
most productive, as good preparation has been made and some
fertilizer is left to supply the rice and give it a good growth
before the time of ripening. On the poorer grades of sandy
land the crop requires the same fertilization as that for corn,
that is, about three hundred to five hundred pounds per acre
applied before planting.
RICE VS. CORN, FOLLOWING IRISH POTATOES
Whenever the Irish potato crop can be harvested by April
25 in South Florida, and by May 10 in North and West Florida,
corn is usually preferable to rice as a follow crop after Irish
potatoes, but where the corn cannot be planted until after these
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dates it seldom produces a profitable crop, due especially to th
destruction by budworms. Under such conditions rice is usually;
more profitable than corn as it can be planted as late as June 2
Irish potato land is well adapted to rice as the soil is mois
and in a good state of cultivation when the potatoes are har
vested. Such a soil is also very favorable for a rank growth o
Maiden cane, Bermuda or Joint grass. After the potatoes ar
harvested these grasses should be destroyed before planting th
rice, otherwise it will require much hoeing to keep the grass front
choking out the rice.
Where the land to be planted is surrounded by hammock th(
rice crop may be taken by the birds. Under such condition
it may be more profitable to plant a forage crop as these bird,
are destructive to all grain crops.
When the heads show a tendency to fill it is best to let the
crop ripen and harvest for the seed; but wherever it is not in
clined to fill properly it should be cut while green and made into
hay, for if allowed to ripen thoroly the quality of the hay wil
be inferior, as rice straw has less feeding value than oat straw
As a grain crop one may expect 15 to 40 bushels per acre and
occasionally more. As a hay crop upward of two tons per acre
may be expected.
Rice may be harvested about the same as oats, that is, if
sown with a grain drill or broadcast it may be cut with a mower
or binder. If the crop has been planted in wide rows and is to
be harvested for the seed, it will pay to cradle it and tie into
bundles and let it cure in the shock, then stacked or put under
cover. If harvested just as soon as the grain is mature there
will be considerable feed in the straw and there will be little loss
from shattered grain.
The County Agent or Extension Division will supply informa-
tion on harvesting and milling machinery, on request.