REGIONAL—Wild rice conditions are looking good this year in many areas of the state and the Department of Natural Resources is offering a reminder of important regulations restricting harvest …
REGIONAL—Wild rice conditions are looking good this year in many areas of the state and the Department of Natural Resources is offering a reminder of important regulations restricting harvest to rice stands that are ripe.
“Favorable weather, without too much heavy rain early in the season, has been a positive for wild rice,” said Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor.
Minnesota has more acres of natural wild rice than any other state in the country. Wild rice and its harvesting are profoundly important to Minnesota’s tribal nations, for cultural, spiritual, and social reasons. Many other Minnesotans also enjoy harvesting wild rice, a highly nutritious grain.
While labor intensive, harvesting wild rice can be rewarding, and finding a mentor who knows what they’re doing can make the learning process easier.
Harvesters are allowed to take ripe wild rice each year between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30, but Minnesota’s green rice law makes it illegal to harvest unripe or “green” rice, even within the dates of the harvest season. So although rice beds may look like they are ready, ricers must make sure the grain is ripe before attempting to harvest it.
Peak harvesting dates are generally between late August to mid-September as long as weather remains mild and dry.
Novice rice harvesters are often advised to use a processor rather than attempt to process themselves. Anyone looking for more information on wild rice in their area can contact their local DNR wildlife manager or a Shallow Lakes Program specialist.
Because of the grain’s importance, harvesting wild rice is regulated in Minnesota and requires a license for both individuals in a canoe.