Why is rice grown in the California desert

Why is rice grown in the California desert

The state of California, which is also known as The Golden State”, is not just one of the most populous cities in the US, as well as third among the largest states in terms of land area.  The fact is, California also ranked second among the largest rice-growing state in America.

California has thirteen rice counties that include Sacramento (California’s capital), Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Merced, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba.  The state is also known to be the largest producer of numerous short and medium grain varieties of japonica rice in the country.

According to history, rice industry in California started during the period of Gold Rush” (1848 to 1855). During those times, California drew a lot of attention from gold seekers around the world including Chinese immigrants who came in large numbers. However, gold mining was never an easy task and life was hard in those times. Majority of the Chinese immigrants were turned into workers in gold fields and railroads with the provision of feeding them with rice as part of the payment. Rice is known to be an essential part of a Chinese’s diet, as well as other Asian groups, but was not widely grown in the US during those times which made it more difficult to supply. As time passes by, the state became hungry and they have to resolve in importing large amount of food. But the farmers have other things in mind; they saw an opportunity to get rich without mining gold. After years of searching and testing for the suitable varieties of rice and the perfect location to grow it, the California growers in Butte County became successful. In 1912, California farmers have discovered that they have the perfect type of soil and climate appropriate for growing rice and they started commercial production and innovation since then.

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