Skip to main content

Wild rice harvest season opens; low yield expected after rainy summer

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The highly-regulated Minnesota wild rice harvest season began Friday, and the Department of Natural Resources is warning harvesters to be cautious with unripe seeds.

In a press release, the DNR says that despite it being in-season, if the rice isn't ripe, it's illegal for harvest. This could be especially prevalent this year, because the late spring may have caused the rice to mature more slowly than normal. Most areas likely aren't ready yet, the DNR says.

The Associated Press reported lower yields should be expected, possibly 75 percent less than last year in some of the areas hardest hit by flooding.

Northland's News Center reports the wild rice season was actually delayed on the Fond du Lac reservation, possibly due to the late ice-out and wet, cool spring. A Fond du Lac program manager said flooding in that area wasn't an issue for the wild rice.

The DNR expects peak harvest times to be early to mid-September, as long as weather remains mild. Bit noted some beds that had rice last year may have none at all this season.

“Some areas had exceptional rice harvests last year,” said David Kanz, Aitkin area assistant wildlife manager. “Early and sustained high water levels this year have hurt some rice beds, so as water levels continue to come down, we’ll have to watch how the rice responds and see if there is enough growing season left for it to recover.”

More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties.

Harvesting licenses can be purchased online or from a DNR license agent. It's $25 for the season, or $15 for one day if you're a Minnesota resident.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCJO-kfOX2U

Regulations

Wild rice plays a significant role in the ecosystem, the DNR says. Migrating waterfowl depend on it as a staple for their diets, and the growing plants provide a habitat for fish and invertebrates. It's also an important food culturally for many of Minnesota's American Indian tribes.

Because of that, the DNR highly regulates wild rice harvesting. Some of the rules:

  • Harvest takes place from a non-motorized canoe, 18 feet or less in length, utilizing only a push pole or paddles for power.
  • Rice is collected by using two sticks, or flails, to knock mature seeds into the canoe. Flails can be no longer than 30 inches, and must weigh less than 1 pound each.
  • The gathering process is labor-intensive.
  • There is no limit to the number of pounds people may harvest with a permit.
  • Processing is necessary to finish the rice into its final food product.
  • Allowing ample scouting time will lead to greater success. Accessing some lakes can be difficult and some lakes and rivers within tribal boundaries are not open to public harvest. Finding a mentor who is willing to share their skills and knowledge can greatly improve success.
  • It is unlawful for any person to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for Native Americans or residents of the reservations listed.

Next Up

Jason Hackett

New face joining KARE 11's 'Sunrise' morning show

Jason Hackett will be joining Alicia Lewis and Guy Brown on KARE 11's morning show.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 4.04.09 PM

Armed robbery suspect sought in two south metro investigations

The incidents took place at credit unions in Savage and Apple Valley.

image

Former Twin Cities plastic surgeon charged with sex crimes

Christopher Kovanda is accused of inappropriately touching woman under the guise of providing medical care.

Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 4.23.26 PM

Minnesota man accused of murder in Chicago is arrested in Alabama

A 26-year-old man from a small town on the Iowa border is accused of murdering a Greyhound bus employee.

DougKeddieShakopeeSchools

Support for Shakopee Public Schools employee diagnosed with cancer

The media specialist has been transitioned to hospice care recently.

snow

Big November snowstorms uncommon in MN, but snowfall is increasing

This week's 8.4 inches at MSP Airport was one of the biggest November storms in the Twin Cities since 1991.

MNASecondStrike

Minnesota nurses take vote on whether to hold second strike

The results will be determined Wednesday night.

unsplash medical marijuana

OCD, irritable bowel syndrome added to MN's medical marijuana list

They are the two latest qualifying medical conditions for Minnesota's marijuana program.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 9.27.45 AM

Fundraiser created for family-owned Cô Tu' Oriental Cuisine after shooting

Support from the community will go towards medical expenses and overhead costs for the restaurant.

Erica Shameka Roberts

Police: Minnesota murder suspect arrested in Texas

Erica Roberts has been on the run since March.

JackknifedSemisI35

Jackknifed semis close I-35 northbound near Faribault

There are icy conditions across Minnesota

Related

June floods left little for wild rice harvest

Wild rice growers on the Fond Du Lac Reservation say June floods devastated aquatic life in several lakes where fall harvests typically reap several thousand pounds of wild rice, which is used at community events, funerals and the school, WDIO reports. It was the first time in 13 years that there was no harvest, a natural resources program manager says.

Wild rice crop damaged by northern Minn. flooding

Heavy rain and extreme flooding in northern Minnesota this morning has taken a toll on the wild rice harvest. The Fond du Lac Reservation's crop was destroyed by flood water while the rice beds in northwest Wisconsin are also in poor shape. The region was inundated by major flooding in June.