Rice is the main food for about one-third to one-half of the world’s population. A mature rice plant is usually two to six feet tall. In the beginning, one shoot appears. It is followed by one, two, or more offshoots developing. There are at least five or six hollow joints for each stalk, and a leaf for each joint.
The leaf of the rice plant is long, pointed, flat, and stiff. The highest join of the rice plant is called the panicle. The rice grains develop from the panicles. (Jodon, 300)
Rice is classified in the grass family Gramineae. Its genus is Oryza and species O. sativa.
It is commonly cultivated for food in Asia. Some varieties of rice include red rice, glutinous rice, and wild rice. (Jodon, 303) The kernel within the grain contains most of the vitamins and minerals (298). The kernel contains thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin (299).
Rice has many enemies that destroy a majority of the rice crops. The larvae of moth, stem borers, live in the stems of the rice plants.
Some insects suck the plant juices or chew the leaves. Birds, such as bobolink, Java sparrow, or paddybird, would eat the seeds or grains. Disease causing factors such as fungi, roundworms, viruses, and bacteria also destroy the rice plants. Blast disease is caused by fungi which causes the panicles containing the grains to break. (Jodon, 300)
There are various types of rice grown all over the world. A majority of rice grown is cultivated rice.
When rice is grown with water standing on the fields, it is called lowland, wet, or irrigated rice. Rice plants grown in certain parts of Asia, South America, and Africa are called upland, hill, or dry rice because they are raised on elevated lands that cannot be flooded, but with plentiful rainfall. Wild rice is grown along lake shores of Canada and the Great Lakes. It is usually eaten by people in India. Scented rice is the most expensive because is has long grains and tastes like popcorn when cooked. Glutinous rice is waxy rice consumed by Asians.
It is cooked to a sticky paste and is used for cakes and confections. (Jodon, 299)
Rice was thought to have originated in southeast Asia when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B. C(Jodon, 303). Further research revealed that rice was cultivated around or at the Yangtze River in China, around 4000 to 11,500 years ago. One archaeologist, Toyama, surveyed data on 125 samples of rice grains, plant remains, husks, and other factors from numerous sites along the length of the Yangtze River. “He reported that the oldest samples.
. . are clustered along the middle Yangtze in Hubei and Hunan provinces. Samples from the upper and lower portions of the Yangtze River were found to be younger, around 4,000 to 10,000 years old. “This pattern. .
.suggests that rice cultivation originated in the middle Yangtze and spread from there”. Archaeologists see more than a decade of excavation of the Yangtze River and nearby sites to confirm that the Yangtze River is where rice was first cultivated. (Normille, 309)
The Greeks learned of rice when Alexander the Great invaded India around 326 B. C. Spain was introduced to rice when it was conquered by the Moors during the 700’s A.
D. Spain then introduced rice to Italy, around the 1400’s. The Spanish also introduced rice to the West Indies and South America, around the 1600’s. Rice was introduced to the United States when a Madagascar ship docked in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. The ship captain presented the governor with a sack of seed rice. It was then grown in states south of the Ohio River and east of Mississippi.
Rice is usually grown in lowland fields divided by dirt walls (Jodon, 300) A majority of the rice crops are grown with water standing on the fields (Jodon, 299). On level land, these paddies and dirt walls are built in wavy or straight lines. On hill-like land, they follow the slopes and form paddies that rise like steps. The dirt walls are used to hold in water for the fields. (300)
Cultivation of the rice plant requires controlling the water supply .