Many regions of Minnesota have good wild rice conditions this year, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is giving advice and a reminder of critical laws that limit harvest to mature rice stands.
According to Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor, he heard reports of good wild rice this year in some areas, however, the hot and dry weather that most of the state is facing suggests that rice stands will vary.
“People interested in harvesting wild rice should do some scouting, both to look for good stands of rice and to determine if they are accessible by boat. We know there are some waters that have good rice stands, but access to them might be a challenge due to low water levels.” Ricky stated.
Harvesters often gather rice using two sticks, or flails, to knock ripe seeds into the canoe using a nonmotorized boat with a push pole or paddles for propulsion.
While labor demanding, wild rice harvesting can be gratifying, according to the release, and having a mentor who understands what they’re doing may help the learning process go more smoothly.
People should be aware of the laws that assist conserve wild rice stands for future years when they consider harvesting.
Harvesters are permitted to collect mature wild rice between August 15 and September 30, but Minnesota’s green rice legislation makes it unlawful to harvest unripe or “green” rice even during the harvest season.
Although rice beds may appear to be ready, harvesters must first ensure that the grain is mature and easily falls from the stalk before harvesting it, according to the statement.
For licensing, regulatory, and safety information, harvesters should visit the DNR’s wild rice management page.
Harvesters should pack out what they bring in to maintain access areas clean. They should also develop a strategy for how the rice will be processed before leaving.
Inexperienced rice harvesters are frequently recommended to hire a processor rather than trying to process their rice. Contact your local DNR wildlife manager or a Shallow Lakes Program specialist for additional information about wild rice in your region.
If the weather stays moderate and dry, peak harvesting periods are expected to be in late August to mid-September.
Although the hot weather this summer may hasten the maturation of some rice stands, harvesters must nevertheless wait until the opening date of Aug. 15 and confirm that the stand they are harvesting is ready.
Taking wild rice grain from any of the waterways inside the original limits of the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs reservations is illegal for the majority of people.
However, Native Americans and residents of the specified reservations are the only exceptions to this rule.
All non-tribal members intending to harvest or purchase wild rice inside the Leech Lake Reservation’s limits must get Leech Lake Reservation permission.