How to grow Rice plants

Rice (Oryza sativa)

Rice is one of the most popular foods especially in Asia. Rice is the third most important agricultural commodity after sugar and maize. It is cultivated in over 110 countries. We cultivate the grass species Oryza sativa in order to collect its seeds (rice) for edible use.

In most cases, rice is annual plant. However, in some rare cases, the rice plant grows as a perennial and can survive 10 or more years. The biological cycle of rice (days from seedling to harvest) ranges from 95 days (early varieties) to almost 250 days (very late varieties).

Average yield per hectare:  4,5 tons. In some countries like Australia and in Egypt, the yield can increase to an amazing 8 tons per hectare.

Root system: Ranging from 10 inches (25-30 cm) to over 40 inches (100cm).

There are over 7000 rice varieties that are cultivated nowadays. As a rule of thumb, we need large supply of water and low labor costs in order to establish a successful professional rice cultivation unit.

There are 3 ways to cultivate rice:

Lowland or Paddy rice cultivation (about 70% of worldwide rice cultivation). Rice is cultivated in land that is flooded, either rain fed or irrigated. The depth of water ranges from 2 to 20 inches (5 to 50 cm).

Upland rice cultivation (about 10% of worldwide rice cultivation). Rice is cultivated in non-flooded land, and the cultivation depends highly on raining water.

Floating and deep water rice (about 20% of worldwide rice cultivation). Rice is cultivated in land that is highly flooded. The depth of water exceeds 20 inches (50 cm) and can reach 200 inches (5 meters). Only certain rice varieties can be cultivated this way.

As is the case in many other species, professional cultivation of rice can start by direct sowing of seeds or by raising the plants in seedbeds and then transplanting them in a field free from weeds. There are pros and cons for each way, but as a rule of thumb, contemporary cultivation methods suggest that direct sowing is more efficient in the long term.

Sowing directly to the field: In a nutshell, we need on average about 200 to 260 lbs (90-120 kg) of seeds per hectare. We plant the seeds linearly, leaving a distance of 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm). between seeds. We let the water fill our field immediately (or maximum 8 days) after the sowing is completed.

Transplant: We should have in mind that we need a seedbed with an area of 2-10% of the field where we want to finally transplant our rice plants. If our field is 10 hectares (10.000 square meters), our seedbed should be at least 0.2 hectares. We need about 1500 lbs (700 kg) of seeds per hectare of seedbed. We sow in lines that have a distance of 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm). Once we have finished the sowing in the seedbed, we let the water fill the seedbed at a maximum depth of 2 inches (5 cm). Rice plants are kept to the seedbed from 30 to 60 days (depending on the biological cycle of the variety). The rice plants are ready to be transplanted when they reach a height of 8 to 12 inches (20-28 cm). We transplant them in the field linearly in a 8 inches X 8 inches (20cm X 20cm) scheme (8 inches distance in the row and 8 inches distance between the rows).

Do you have experience in cultivating rice? Please share your experience, methods and practices in the comments below.

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