Food and Travel (Singapore) - - Special Feature -

QQQQQFIELD PREPA­RA­TION Dur­ing spring, farm­ers be­gin to pre­pare their fields for plant­ing. First, fields are care­fully lev­elled with pre­ci­sion, laser-guided grad­ing equip­ment. Fer­tiliser is then added, and shal­low fur­rows are rolled into the field. About a month later, the fields are ready to be planted.

FLOOD­ING AND SEED­ING Wa­ter is run into the fields to a depth of only 5 inches. Con­sis­tent wa­ter depth has been shown to im­prove the rice plants’ abil­ity to com­pete against weeds for nu­tri­ents and sun­light, re­duc­ing the need for her­bi­cides. Rice seeds are then soaked to re­move buoy­ancy and loaded into planes. Fly­ing at 100 mph, these planes plant the fields from the air. The heavy seeds will then sink into the fur­rows and be­gin to grow.

MAT­U­RA­TION OF RICE The rice seedlings are now ready to be­gin their four to five-month jour­ney to ma­tu­rity. The rice grows rapidly, ul­ti­mately reach­ing a height of 3 feet. By fall, the grain heads are ma­ture and ready to be har­vested.

HAR­VEST Be­fore rice har­vest can be­gin, the fields must be drained. Once the fields are dry, state-of-the-art har­vesters en­ter the fields to col­lect the per­fectly ripe grain. Be­cause qual­ity is so im­por­tant, these har­vesters are de­signed to both gen­tly and rapidly bring the grain in from the fields. Spe­cialised trac­tors come along­side, re­ceiv­ing the rice and de­liv­er­ing it to wait­ing trail­ers so the har­vesters can con­tinue with­out hav­ing to stop to un­load. MILLING AND STOR­AGE Next, the rice is care­fully dried to an ideal mois­ture level and stored. At the mill, the hull is first re­moved, leav­ing brown rice. White rice is the re­sult of gen­tly re­mov­ing the bran lay­ers to leave just the in­ner, pearly grain. Rice mills in Cal­i­for­nia are among the most ad­vanced in the world, with spe­cialised equip­ment to mill, sort and pack­age rice to meet the high­est qual­ity stan­dards.

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