Rice (Gr. , Lat. oryza, Fr. riz), one of the cereal grains, oryza sativa, of the grass family. The genus is the type of a small tribe of gramineoe, the oryzeoe, in which the one-flowered spikelets have the glumes very much reduced, or wanting altogether, and the palets, which in most grasses are more delicate, are in these firm and prominently nerved. In rice itself, an annual 2 to 4 ft. high, the lancelinear leaves are rough on the upper surface; the flowers are in panicles with somewhat erect branches; the one-flowered spikelets have very minute glumes, not one fourth as long as the palets, which are much flattened laterally, the upper strongly three- and the lower five-nerved and pointed or bearing an awn; the palets grow with the grain, and completely invest it when ripe; stamens six. Rice has been cultivated from the earliest times in India, and the Chinese records state that it was introduced into that country in 2822 B. C.; it is found growing spontaneously in various parts of India, but chiefly on the banks of rivers, where it may have been carried from cultivation, and there is much doubt as to the place of its origin.
In the wild state and in cultivation there are numerous varieties, differing in the size, shape, and color of the grain; in India a wild variety found on the borders of certain lakes is preferred by the rich Hindoos to all others, but as its yield is very small it is not cultivated. The improvement of rice by selection has long been practised by the Chinese; an early imperial edict enjoined the selection of the largest seed for sowing; the most valued kind cultivated in this country was obtained by a planter in South Carolina, who, noticing some remarkably long grains upon a head, selected these, and thus obtained the variety known as the long grain; in Ceylon 161 varieties are enumerated. Ordinary rice requires irrigation for its successful culture, but in the mountainous parts of India, in northern China, and in Japan, an upland variety (or species ?) is in common cultivation, which is only 3 ft. high and is grown like ordinary grain. Rice is in some parts of India the chief article of produce, and in some districts, particularly in the marshy lands along the coast of Orissa, it is almost the only object of agricultural labor. In China and the islands of the eastern archipelago it is the principal support of the vast population of that portion of the globe.
It is extensively cultivated in parts of Africa, in southern Europe, and in the tropical countries of North and South America. Various accounts are given of its introduction into this country. Gov. Alston of South Carolina in an agricultural address (1854) says: "Rice, for which we are indebted to the island of Madagascar, was introduced into Carolina and America at once, toward the close of the 17th century." One account states that a vessel from Madagascar "put into Carolina" and left some seed there. Gov. Alston gives no particulars, but says that a few grains of this Madagascar rice were sown in a garden, which is now one of the thickly built parts of Charleston, and that from this came the seed which has made South Carolina the great rice-growing state. Another account says that rice was grown in Virginia by Sir William Berkeley as early as 1647, but gives no particulars. There are three principal varieties in the rice-growing states: 1. White rice, valued for its easiness and for growing upon uplands; the husk is cream-colored; an ounce contains 960 grains. 2. The gold-seeded, which has a deep yellow husk and a large, line, white grain; an ounce contains 896 grains. 3. The long-grain, a sub-variety of the gold-seeded, obtained as already described; it has 840 grains in the ounce; the grains are longer than any other, and it is the most valued for exportation.
For home use a long-awned variety called the white-bearded is often sown. - The best lands for the cultivation of rice are on the banks of rivers having a deep soil, chiefly of decomposed vegetable matters, and so situated as to be overflowed by the opening of tide gates. They must be above the salt or brackish water, and below the reach of the freshets, so as not to be flooded at unseasonable times. Other low lands not in the tide region may bear good crops if so situated that they can be drained and flooded at will. The -land is prepared by a thorough system of embankments and ditches, so laid out as to form independent fields, the size of which is limited by the number of hands that can finish any one operation connected with the culture in one day; they usually consist of from 14 to 20 acres. The ditches are of various dimensions, often 5 ft. wide and as many deep, and sometimes the principal one is large enough to be used as a canal for transportation between the fields and the barns. Early in the winter the land is either ploughed or dug over with the hoe, and in the warm changes of the weather it is covered with water.
In March it is kept dry, the drains are cleansed, the clods broken, and the surface smoothed off with the harrow or hoe, and trenches for the seed are made with a 4-inch trenching hoe at right angles with the drains 12 to 15 in. apart. In April and till the middle of May the seed is scattered in these trenches at the rate of 2 1/2 to 3 bushels to the acre. Great attention is given to selecting the seed; and sometimes the rice for this purpose is threshed by hand over a log or barrel, so as to throw out only the full-sized grains. "Volunteer" rice, the product of scattered seeds that have remained in the ground from the crop of the preceding year, is treated as a weed, and all that appears outside of the drills is cut up with the hoe. As the seed is sown it is covered lightly with soil, and the water is then let in through the gates and kept upon the land for four to six days, till the grain swells and begins to sprout. If the seed is not to be covered in the drills, it is previously prepared by stirring it in clayey water, and being then dried enough clay adheres to insure its remaining in the trenches when the water is let on.
With the first method the water has to be let on a second time when the plants sprout and appear like needles above the ground, while with the latter one flooding answers. The water, after standing four to six days on the sprouts, is drained off, and when the plant is five or six weeks old the earth is stirred with the hoe; this is repeated ten days afterward, and the "long water" is then put on for about two weeks, deep for four days, and then gradually diminishing. After the water has been drawn off about eight days and the field is dry, it is hoed to a good depth. On the appearance of a joint in the plant the land is lightly hoed again, and is then "laid by," that is, the "joint water" is put on to remain until the grain is matured, which may be two months. A few days before cutting, the water is run off and the ditches are washed out by the succeeding tide. The rice is cut with a sickle, and is carefully laid across the high and thick stubble to cure. The day after cutting, when the dew is off, it is bound in sheaves, and either borne on the heads of the laborers or packed in large flats, each one carrying the product of five to seven acres, to be conveyed to the barn yard.
It is there stacked in small ricks, and when thoroughly cured it is put away in large stacks, each of which holds enough to make 200 to 400 bushels of threshed grain. The threshing is done with a machine invented by Calvin Emmons of New York, which is generally in use; this separates the grain by the action of toothed beaters revolving at the rate of 750 to 800 turns per minute. The grain comes from the threshing mills as rough rice or paddy, which requires milling or grinding to free it from the hulls; but it is often shipped in this state, in which it is well protected against damage, to be hulled in Europe or in New York, the rice being delivered fresh and clean to the consumers. The old method of removing the hulls was by pounding in hand mortars made of pitch pine blocks and holding about a bushel; it is at present hulled by steam power; an elevator takes the grain to the top of the building, where a screen frees it from sand; it then passes between a pair of heavy stones 5 ft. across, which remove the outer husk; thence it goes into large wooden mortars, the iron-shod pestles to which weigh 250 to 350 lbs. each, and is pounded for about two hours, when it is ready for screening. There are some mills which clean the rice by means of wire cards, without pounding.
Finally the rice is passed through an inclined revolving cylindrical wire screen, the gratings of which grow coarser toward the lower end. It is thus assorted into a number of products. At the upper end of the screen the flour passes through, next the eyes and small pieces of broken rice, then the "middling rice," which consists of larger fragments and of the smaller grains, and lastly the "prime rice," or best and mostly unbroken grains. The head rice or largest grains of all, together with the rough that escaped the mill, pass out at the lower end and are thence returned to the mill. The prime rice as it falls through the screen descends to the "polishing" or "brushing screen," which is a vertical cylinder, laid up and down with shreds of sheepskin, and made to revolve rapidly within a wire screen. The rice, falling down in the space between these, is swept clean of the flour that adheres to it, and is discharged below in a perfectly clean and polished condition. It is received in barrels holding about 6 cwt. each, and is then ready for the market.
The middling and small rice, being cleaned by a fan, are kept for home consumption. - The average of several analyses gives as the proximate composition of rice: albuminoids 7.5, carbo-hydrates 76.5, water 14.6, ash 0.5. It will be seen that, as compared with wheat, rice is deficient in albuminoids, or flesh-forming principles; it is a very easily digestible food, and especially adapted to use in warm climates. New rice is said to produce indigestion and diarrhoea, and it should not be used until six months old. It is said that in some parts of India it is regarded as fit for food only when it has been kept three years. Some southern physicians assert that a diet consisting largely of rice produces nearsightedness, and that there are ten times as many persons with disordered eyes in the rice-consuming districts as elsewhere. The common method of cooking rice is to boil it in water properly salted, the rice being introduced into the water after this is boiling hot. In four or five minutes the water is drained off, and the pot covered is left 20 minutes longer on the coals. The rice is then ready to be served up as a vegetable, in which state the grains should be thoroughly cooked, but still retain their identity.
In tropical countries it is much eaten in curries, which consist of rice, meat, and various aromatics. It is also made into puddings, as is the ground rice or rice flour, of which are made varieties of bread and of griddle cakes. Parched rice is one of the many substitutes for coffee. Rice flour or rice starch is found in the stores put up in packages as rizena and under other trade names. In medical practice a decoction known as rice water is often prescribed as a nutritive drink in fevers and inflammatory affections of the bowels, lungs, and kidneys. Its decoction fermented and distilled produces the spirituous liquor known as arrack. A useful cement is readily prepared from rice by mixing the flour with cold water and boiling. It dries nearly transparent, and is used in making many articles in paper. If made with little water, it may be moulded into models, busts, etc. Although so rich in starch, it has not been found an economical material for supplying that article. - The total production of rice in the United States in 1870, according to the federal census, was 73,-635,021 lbs., of which South Carolina produced 32,304,825 lbs., Georgia 22,277,380, Louisiana 15,854,012, North Carolina 2,059,281, Florida 401,687, Mississippi 374,627, Alabama 222,945, Arkansas 73,021, Texas 63,844, and Tennessee 3,399. There has been a marked decrease in the production since the civil war; the total yield in 1850 was 215,313,497 lbs., and in 1860 187,167,032. A small quantity is annually exported from the United States, amounting during the year ending June 30, 1874, to 558,922 lbs., valued at $27,075. The imports during the same year amounted to 73,257,716 lbs., valued at $2,083,248; 38,716,980 lbs. were imported from England, 29,218,123 from China, 2,443,601 from the British East Indies, and 1,087,785 from the Hawaiian Islands.
Rice (Oryza sativa), bearded and beardless varieties. Separate Spikelet enlarged.
A S. E. County Of Minnesota, drained by the head waters of Cannon river; area, about 575 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 16,025. The surface is uneven; the soil is productive. It is intersected by the Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad. The chief productions in 1870 were 531,206 bushels of wheat, 227,931 of Indian corn, 348,543 of oats, 36,773 of barley, 57,862 of potatoes, 33,615 tons of hay, 20,607 lbs. of wool, and 364,260 of butter. There were 3,775 horses, 4,240 milch cows, 7,603 other cattle, 7,907 sheep, and 7,324 swine; 1 manufactory of agricultural implements, 3 of carriages and wagons, 6 of cooperage, 4 of furniture, 4 of saddlery and harness, 6 of tin, copper, and sheet-iron ware, 8 flour mills, 9 saw mills, and 1 distillery. Capital, Faribault.
A Central County Of Kansas, intersected by the Arkansas river, and watered by Low creek and the Little Arkansas; area, 900 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 5. It is traversed by the Atchison, To-peka, and Santa Fé railroad. The surface consists of undulating prairies, which have a fertile soil. The bottom lands are well timbered. Capital, Brookdale.