After another full week of harvesting rice, we’ve finished this year’s rice harvest!

There were a few bumps along the way (the combine got stuck in the mud at a certain point!), but we made it through.

The Logistical Dance of the Harvest

Harvesting rice is always a logistical dance because unlike other grains, rice gets harvested at a higher humidity. Grains like wheat and oats can be harvested at 11-12% humidity and are ready to be stored at harvest.

Rice is harvested at 16-22% humidity, depending on the variety. The higher humidity ensures a high “processing yield,” which is the yield that rice gives once it’s processed.

If rice is harvested at a lower humidity, then there is a risk that many of the kernels will break during processing, resulting in a lower processing yield. But grains cannot be stored at that humidity because they will ferment and lose quality.

It’s Time to Process the Rice

Therefore, immediately after harvest, rice has to be taken to a drying facility before it can be stored.

We take our rice to a nearby facility and, in about a day, get a load of dry rice back.

For a variety of last-minute, unexpected changes in the management of our usual off-farm storage facility that I’ll leave for another post (don’t get me started on post-harvest logistics!!), I decided to store the dried rice on-farm in plastic material. I’ve affectionately started calling the stored rice our “rice sausages.”

While I feel good about the storage solution, it added a whole new layer of complexity to our usual rice harvest dance.

It’ll be a few more months before we will have the chance to eat the just-harvested rice, because the next step after harvest and storage is processing… and we aren’t quite there yet!

— Ariane Lotti

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