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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include: Manomin, Canadian rice, Tuscarora rice, water rice, folle avoine, water oats, blackbird oats, marsh oats.

Latin Name: Zizania palustris

Plant Family: Poaceae

Close Relatives: Distantly related to other small grains in the Poaceae family.

Uses and Markets: Culinary (used cooked as a whole grain, traditionally in North American cuisine).

Wild rice grains (Photo credit: Nick Lundgren,
AgronomicsProduction Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Wild rice is grown in shallow lakes or paddies with a depth of 15-90 cm of water and a soft soil layer on the bottom.  Lake production is practiced in Ontario and other parts of Canada, while both lake production and paddy production occur in some areas of the USA.  If spring seeding, overcome seed dormancy by placing seed in cold water storage for 3 months at 0.5-2°C or use scarified seed.   Special laws exist for harvesting wild rice in various regions of Ontario and permits are required from the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Please refer to the Wild Rice Harvesting Act for more information.

Propagation method

Self-seeding wild stands or commercially planted (broadcast seeded) stands.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Spring or fall (fall preferred).

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing


Between row spacing

For new plantings, seed at 33-45 kg/ha.  Established plantings typically re-seed themselves.

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



Fertilisation of lake grown crops is not permitted in Ontario.  No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist.  Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. In other jurisdictions, nitrogen applications range from 33-56 kg/ha for paddy production of wild rice.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Soft soil layer with peat, loam or clay.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Lake or paddy production.

Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Heat sensitive.

Irrigation requirements


Days to harvest

Harvest in mid-August to mid-September; typically 110 days.

Specialized equipment:

Lake production - mechanical harvesters have a trough fixed to the front of a boat to collect ripe grains that fall into the trough when pushed over by the boat.  Paddy production - site is drained and allowed to dry before combining. Combines are typically modified to manage green stalk material and also have tracks which aid in traversing soft soil conditions.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest or multiple harvests from the same planting, depending on production system.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Traditional hand harvest in canoe or boat, machine harvest possible in paddy production.

Quality parameters/grades

Wild rice production manuals have outlined general guidelines for grading wild rice, however, grains typically graded and packaged according to market requirements.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Curing and drying is required below 11% moisture content.  Scarification or dehulling may also be performed to remove the outer husk layer to decrease cooking time.

Storage Conditions

Storage conditions listed here apply to wild rice after processing.  Unprocessed wild rice has specialized storage requirements.  Contact an OMAFRA specialist for information on storage of wild rice prior to processing.

Relative humidity (RH): 65%

Temperature: 5°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: >6 months

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Unknown – limited research trials on this crop in Ontario to date.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Rice worm (Apamea apamiformis)*, midges (e.g. Cricotopus spp.), rice stalk borer (Chilo plejadelus), rice water weevils (Lissorhoptrus spp.), rice leafminer (Hydrellia spp.), rice stem maggot (Eribolus longulus), crayfish

Diseases: Brown spot (Bipolaris oryzae and B. sorokiniana)*, stem rot (Sclerotium spp., Helminthosporium sigmoidium)*, stem smut (Entyloma lineatum) ergot (Claviceps zizaniae), bacterial leaf streak (Pseudomonas syringae pv. zizaniae and Xanthomonas oryzae), bacterial leaf spot (P. syringae pv. syringae), wheat streak mosaic virus

Other: Blackbirds*, muskrats, beaver (dams raise water levels, drowning wild rice plants), migratory and resident waterfowl

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: N/A – limited research experience with this crop in Ontario. Diseases are typically more destructive in paddy-grown wild rice than in wild rice grown in natural areas.  CAUTION - In Minnesota, ergot has been a problem in natural stands of wild rice – ergot bodies can be poisonous and should be removed from harvested wild rice.  Stand establishment and subsequent growth of wild rice may be limited by competition from aquatic perennials such as water milfoil, coontail, Richardson’s pond weed and waterplantain.   Due to potential restrictions on application of herbicides to aquatic areas, avoidance of production sites with large populations of competitive plants is advisable.  

CAUTION - Regulations may limit or preclude the application of pest control products to aquatic areas – check with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency before applying any product to crops grown in water.  Northern wild rice, (Zizania palustris ), the species discussed in this profile, is not in a crop group, however another species of wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is in Crop Group 15:  Cereal Grains.  For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Pest control products registered on white rice, Oryza sativa, are not registered on wild rice.  There may be few to no pest control products registered on this crop in Ontario. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.


Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile


  1. Oelke, E.A.,  Teynor, T.M.,  Carter, P.R.,  Percich, J.A.,  Noetzel, D.M.,  Bloom, P.R., Porter, R.A.,  Schertz, C.E.,  Boedicker, J.J,  and E.I. Fuller.  1990.  Wild Rice.  In: Alternative Field Crops Manual.  University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension.  Madison.
  2. Peden, D. G.  1982.  Factors Associated with Growth of Wild Rice in Northern Saskatchewan.  Arctic, 35 (2): 307-311.
  3. Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.  (ND). Wild Rice in Saskatchewan, Agricultural Development in Harmony with Nature, A Reference Manual.  Saskatoon.
  4. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture.  2012.  Harvesting Wild Rice