RICE. Ory:a saliva, Linn. Graminew. Figs. 768 773 ; also Fig. 531, p. 371.
An annual plant of the grass family grown for its grain, which is used for human food. The seeds grow on short separate stems radiating from the main stalk, and at maturity stand at a height of two to five feet. The flowers of rice (Fig. 768) are perfect with six stamens, one borne in each spikelet, and usually with rudiments of others ; the fruit or grain (Fig. 769) is oblong and ob tuse and closely enclosed in the Blume or hull, and it falls or shells easily, hull and all. The grain is used in a great variety of ways, and it prob ably supplies more human be ings with food than any other single plant. Rice is exten sively cultivated around the world in the tropical and sub tropical countries, mostly fol lowing the shores. Its culture is very ancient.
While a tropical plant, rice thrives in subtropical coun tries. It is known to have ex isted in India in early historic periods and is doubtless indig enous there. It requires a rich, moist soil, but is of wide adaptation. It thrives better under high temperature than wheat and is more resistant to extreme heat. It has been produced under favorable conditions as far north as 44°, hut its production is limited chiefly to about 40° north and south of the equator; hence it is adapted to all of the states south of Pennsylvania, and under favorable conditions may be grown in most of the United States. With increasing den sity of population it will doubtless become a staple crop in all of the states south of the Ohio river, especially on lands now considered waste by reason of insufficient drainage. Wherever fresh water is found in abundance and can be economically ap plied to the lands within the rice zone, it will prove a profitable crop and will become staple.
In the United States the production of rice has been limited mainly to t he south Atlantic coast states and to the states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico.
Development of the rice industry.
Rice was first intro duced into America soon after the settlement of Virginia and attained considerable importance in the colonial times. According to the Encyclo pedia Americana, the practical introduction of rice took place accidentally in 1694 in lower Caro lina. A vessel bound for Liverpool from Madi
gascar, blown out of her course and in need of repairs, put into Charleston. The captain gave Landgrave Thomas Smith a small parcel of rough rice. This was used as seed ; enough was soon grown to provide the needs of the colony, and early in the following century it began to fur nish a considerable amount for export. In 1707, seventeen ships were reported as sailing from South Carolina with cargoes of rice. Production gradually increased, and in 1730 it reached 21,153,054 pounds ; in 1755 it was 50,747,090 pounds, and in 1770 it had increased to 75,264, 500 pounds. This was the product of slave labor and was mostly exported to Europe and the West Indies. During the next seventy years the increase was slight. In 1840 the report was only 84,145,800 pounds, but in 1860 it amounted to 187,167,032 pounds. The civil war practically destroyed the industry. The crop of 1865 was reported at 4,740,580 pounds. It gradually revived till in 1880 it reached 85,596,800 pounds, and in 1893, 237,546,900 pounds, of which amount Louisiana produced approximately 182,400,000 pounds and the Atlantic coast 55,146,900 pounds. In 1905, the total rice crop of the country was 12,923,920 bushels, valued at $12,266,343.
In Louisiana the production of rice began at an early date, but the commercial product was mainly confined to the alluvial lands along the Mississippi till about 1884, when on the prairie region of southwestern Louisiana the rice industry began to be developed along entirely new 'ines. The wheat machinery of the northwestern states was adjusted to the rice crop ; the gang-plow, the force-feed drill, the twine binder and the steam thresher became necessary adjuncts to the rice-farm. This was possible because the tenacious subsoil of the prairies along the Gulf coast becomes firm enough to sustain harvesting machinery in the period that elapses between drawing off the water of irrigation and the ripening of the grain. These prairies are now a great rice region.