Many of the crops cultivated by Minnesota farmers look to be doing pretty well this growing season. And so is one that's grown by Mother Nature: wild rice.
Harvesting of wild rice may begin this weekend where the grain is ripe. The Department of Natural Resources says plant growth is a little ahead of last year's pace. While recent storms uprooted plants on some lakes, the majority of Minnesota's rice beds look to be in good condition, the agency says.
The harvesting of wild rice is regulated in Minnesota, so you'll need a license if you plan a ricing trip to one of the state's 1,200 lakes or rivers where the plant is found.
It's illegal to harvest rice that is not ripe (green instead of yellow or red). The DNR says peak season normally arrives in late August and early September.
More than half of Minnesota's counties have wild rice but the highest concentrations are in a handful of north central and northeastern counties: Aitkin, Crow Wing, Cass, Itasca, and St. Louis, the DNR says.
As the only cereal grain native to North America, wild rice has always been an important part of Native American culture in this area.
Harvesting of the rice has changed little over the centuries and modern-day tribal and state regulations require that it be done in the traditional way.
Wild rice is Minnesota's state grain and according to the state website, for many years all the wild rice produced in the world came from Minnesota.
These days there is commercial production of wild rice in paddies. In the assessment of one website, while growers have tried to tame the wild rice, they've only succeeded in corralling it.