Spring 2009
by Linda and Takeshi Akaogi

In the Sept. 2008 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Cheryl Bruce reported on efforts by Linda and Takeshi Akaogi to grow rice on their small farm in Putney, Vermont. In March 2008, the couple received a SARE Farmer Grant to evaluate the viability of rice production in the Northeast; to create a supply of seed for interested farmers; and to introduce rice as a commercial crop to this region. Here, the Akaogis report on their 2008 trials.

This is a preliminary report of last year’s results.

For the past three years, we have been experimenting with growing temperate rice in the northeastern United States. We increased our paddy size from 625 sq. ft. to 4,320 sq. ft., evaluated 30 varieties and identified 25 that produce seed at Akaogi Farm. We selected three of the adapted varieties for yield trials, and these three varieties produced a mean, extrapolated yield of 5,847 lb. per acre. This three-year experiment shows that rice can be grown productively in the northeastern United States and has potential to become a commercial crop.

To learn more about rice growing, you can get a copy of our 2008 grant proposal from the Northeast SARE grant office at 802-656-0471, and read Cheryl Bruce’s article, “Could Rice be the Northeast’s Newest Grain Crop” (The MOF&G, Sept.-Nov. 2008). For information about rice paddy systems and biodiversity, read the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Resolution X.31, “Enhancing biodiversity in rice paddies as wetland systems” (go to www.ramsar.org, then click on COP 10, then resolutions, then X.31). For people interested in rice culture worldwide and in cooking basic, simple, everyday meals using rice, see Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

Our final Northeast SARE grant report will be posted on SARE’s searchable database in March: www.sare.org/reporting/report_viewer.asp.

A basic rice-growing manual for the Northeast and trial seeds will be ready to distribute to interested growers sometime in March. The details will be announced through the NOFA-VT Web site, www.nofavt.org.

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