September 19, 2019

Upland Rice Threshed and Rough Yield

A couple weeks ago I told you about harvesting my upland rice.

My first ever rice harvest!

After harvesting, there are three steps to processing rice: threshing, dehulling, and winnowing. Having hulls makes it a bit more complicated than processing wheat, but I plan to take it one step at a time. Threshing was my first step. My question was, how?

The first thing that came to mine was our yard-mulcher-turned-grain-thresher.

Our first little mulcher was inadequate for that task, so Dan turned it
 into a feed processor (how-to here). We also use it for threshing wheat.

Made from an old Yard Machine brand chipper/mulcher, we've been using it to thresh our wheat for several years. The rice harvest was small enough that a simpler method seemed more in order.

Threshing screen on top of the wheelbarrow. 

My threshing screen is a frame with quarter-inch hardware cloth stapled to the bottom. The grain heads are rubbed on the screen and fall through into the wheelbarrow. It's a slow method, but good for smaller harvests. This worked fairly well, and also taught me something about harvesting rice. Even though I cut it when the heads were golden brown, I should have let it dry out more before cutting it. I say this because the grains were stubborn to be loosened from the stalk. Proper ripeness is the fine point between green and shattering (which is when the seed falls on it's own to the ground). I had to figure this out for wheat, so I'm not surprised I'd have to learn for the rice too.

The result.

I planted a quarter of an ounce (7 gram seed packet) and yielded just under four pounds before dehulling and winnowing. Not as much as I had hoped, but considering how hot and dry our summer has been, I'm still pleased. I will definitely grow upland rice again next year.

The next step will be learning how to dehull it. (Another learning curve new adventure!)


LaFe said...

Super!! I live in the middle of rice fields and at the and of the season (end of september, beginning of August) after harversting the rice, the farmer put it into a drying room, the hull will dry and then you can put the rice in a sift and rub it(since you don't have a really big quantity), the hull is really light so, if you blow on it ( during rubbing) the hull will fly off.
My grandma put the rice in open space, the sunniest and dryest spot on their farmhouse. That spot was raised from the soil and it was made by wood.
The rice you'll obtain is "whole", the best in my opinion but remeber that you will have to cook it a lot, if for white rice (refined) you need 20 minutes +/-, with the whole type you will need more, it almost doubles the time and you wont have a lot of amid released from the grains. This means the whole rice is not fitted for cooking risotto or other preparations that require the rice to be "sticky"
I hope this helps you :)
Have a nice day

Leigh said...

Federica, thank you for the description! Very helpful. I did not know about the drying stage, but that's good to know. I also did not know that about risotto. One of the two types I planted is a risotto type. I plan to save most of it to plant next year, but I'm definitely going to give it a try to taste. :)

J.L. Murphey said...

Still not bad of a harvest. Now, that you've got your feet wet, your next harvest from this year's crop will be grand. I'm excited for you...learning curve or not. Cockeyed Jo, who once again signed in with the wrong acct.

Ed said...

A quarter ounce to four pounds seems like a good return on investment. Too bad I couldn't do that well with 100 dollar bills!

Leigh said...

Jo, thanks! I'm not dissatisfied, just figure it's a starting place. I'm hoping better conditions will yield a better harvest next year. And before I forget, thank you for sending the youtube links for dehulling. I've dropped the ball in answering emails!

Ed, ha! I reckon we're all looking for a cutting off the money tree to plant in our backyards. :)

wyomingheart said...

Hello Leigh! Great post and very glad I caught it this fine morning! I planted some rice in a grow box after I saw your earlier post on it, and so far it is up about 18 inches, but no sign of any seed development. I thank you for sharing this adventure. We wanted to get enough seed off our plants this year to be able to plant a good full row next year. That is, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise... lol!

LaFe said...

Leigh, you are welcome :)
Anyway drying the rice is important for maintain it "eatable". If you don't dry it it will develop mould and some nasty bugs.
Normally the humidity must be around 14/15%, rice is a lot of work :) my grandma did it when she was young, she was a rice weeder also. My county is dedicated to rice cultivation (north west Italy) I'm sorrounded by rice fields and their color is turning a deep hue of gold.
One last hint, if I year you should wait a little bit more before harvesting, the right moment should be later, end of september till middle of october. The spike color should be more gold than pale yellow or pale green.
Anyway, I'm curious, I'll wait for your post about cooking and eating your own rice.
:) Federica

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, good to hear from you! I know you've been busy. I'm delighted that you tried a small patch of rice too. Like you, my goal is to produce a seed crop for next year. Do keep me posted on your progress. You need a blog!

Federica, your hints and tips are very welcome. And much appreciated. You have experience that I have yet to attain, so I'm glad for the help. I had a feeling I should have let it ripen longer. The gentleman I'm following lives much farther north than I do and so has a different growing season and harvest time. But now I have one year under my belt, so hopefully next year will do a little better. :)

Retired Knitter said...

When I am eating rice again, I will have greater appreciation for how much effort goes into getting the little grains of yummy-ness!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, that threshing idea is brilliant! Beats mine of a plastic bucket, an aluminum bat, and another bucket to dump the leavings between. Have you used it for other kinds of grains?

Leigh said...

RT, it's been an interesting experiment. One thing I've discovered, is that by trying to eat more of what we grow, we actually eat less grain. because it's probably the most labor intensive food to process. Now, I find I find it curious that in general, most diets are primarily grain based. Grains take the most energy to harvest and process, yet are among the cheapest foods we can buy. As Mr. Spock used to say, fascinating!

TB, I've tried that too!!! The only other cereal grain we've grown in quantity is wheat, and I've used the threshing screen for that too. It works well for small quantities and makes for a pleasant afternoon activity. Corn, of course, is a whole different ball game. :)

Rain said...

Wording is so important...a new adventure! :) Whenever I find something difficult, I tell myself it's challenging...sometimes it works lol. I think you got a great harvest, considering, and I bet that is quite a learning curve. So cool that you grow your own rice!!

Leigh said...

Rain, gardeners have to love a good challenge. Well, cheesemakers do too! :)

Nancy In Boise said...

Great ideas! I'd be curious what the taste is cooked?

Leigh said...

Nancy, me too! I'll report when I get it de-hulled and cook some up. :)

Cockeyed Jo said...

That's what a homestead community is for. I found a couple more designs too. It helps me and you. :o) We plan on growing upland rice too. We love rice and have been cooking gluten free goodies for our friends. Thanks for spearheading the rice for us.

Leigh said...

Jo, having an online community is the next best thing to like-minded next door neighbors. I'm really glad to year you all are going to experiment with rice next year. It will be nice to have someone to share notes with.

Jeane said...

I love rice. But I never thought to grow it- I'm curious to see how your experiment turns out. I didn't know there were varieties of rice that could be grown on dry land! I have a small vegetable garden- someone gave me amaranth and sorghum seed but I never tried it yet seems intimidating process. I'd be more eager to try rice since I already eat quite a lot of that. Sounds like work though.

Leigh said...

Jeane, welcome! Yes, rice is more work than most other grains, but we like it well enough that if we could get the processing down, I think it would be worth growing every year. I probably wouldn't try paddy rice, though. This is my first year, and I am learning! I'm hoping next year will do even better. :)

Chris said...

You've really gone the extra mile of producing your own food. Not many would invest in growing grains, as they're so cheap to buy. But you never know what to expect, until you roll up your sleeves and try! It's been fun, watching the process from growing, to harvest and storage. Can you store the grain in the hulls, or does that breed bacteria?

Leigh said...

Chris, I'd like to be able to produce at least something from each food group. The grain is easy to grow, but a lot of work to process. I think if we can figure that out and get it down, it will at least seem easier, LOL