Wild Rice Harvesters Are Pleased With This Season’s Crop
Many of the ricers out on Mallard Lake have been enjoying the activity for decades, while others recently got the rice fever.
“I really didn’t know too much about it either until I came out here last year when it was my first year, and I got a hang of it,” said Candace Hill, a wild rice harvester. “It’s pretty easy, nothing too hard about it. You might get a little wet or scared of spiders, but other than that I really like doing it.”
Ricers head out in canoes of 2 people. One sits in the back with the push stick since no motors are allowed. The other in the front is using sticks to knock the rice into the boat. Continuing that teamwork all around the lake for hours.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Pat Foster, a wild rice harvester.
After 6 hours of ricing, harvesters head back in their boat full of rice that they then bag up and take to get processed.
“We give it away as Christmas presents and stuff like that for family members and friends. Or we trade it for honey or maple syrup,” said Jayson Seibert, a wild rice harvester.
After hundreds of pounds of rice are collected each day, the ricer will keep what they need and then sell the rest.
“It’s good rice, best rice there is,” Foster said.
But the rice comes with a price, even for those that harvest it themselves.
“It’s brutal and we even left about a half hour early,” Foster said. “But we have been getting 200 pounds a day.”
For those that sell the rice, a decent paycheck is on its way after receiving around $2 per pound. But for others, it’s just a nice way to spend a few hours outdoors.
“Really encouraging that people are still doing it who take a strong interest in it and that it is really important to them. They are excited about it. The few ricers I’ve talked to have all been really excited about it and happy to be out,” said DNR Wildlife Lake Specialist Ann Geisen.
The ricers are extra enthusiastic this season after some say it is the best crop in at least 10 years. The season is short and lasts just over a week, so many ricers take advantage and harvest multiple days.