Loto is one of four varieties sent to me from Sylvia Davatz (Solstice Seed) in Vermont. Loto (Emilia-Romagna) is a upland variety from Italy. It is classified as a “risotto type”, but can be used in many different styles and dishes, including wonderful soups. I found it to be the easiest to de-hull (higher percentage of hulls removed per pass using hand-crank de-huller). The flavor was excellent.
Loto was the most lodge resistant of all the rice varieties I grew this season (I had zero lodging after a day with 4″ of rain). It stays fairly short and compact, reaching 3′ – 3 1/2′ in height. It was ready to harvest in 105 days from transplanting at the end of May. Loto also had very good foliage cover which helped to minimize weed competition after establishing a canopy. Loto is also an awnless variety which makes threshing much easier. It was very productive and yielded approx. 10 1/2 pounds per 100 square foot.
Rice seeds should be soaked in water 24 hours before planting. I start my plants indoors in April in plug flats, 50’s and transplant into beds after the last frost date. I recommend not leaving plants in flats for more than three weeks as the starts will yellow easily and weaken when root-bound. Here in Northern Indiana, I plant my rice plugs the last week of May. I plant into 4′ wide beds. This makes adding bird netting over the tops of the plants an easy chore using 5′ t-posts and twine. The plants are spaced 9″ apart in the beds. Upland rice requires about the same amount of water as corn, around 1″ per week during the growing season. The plants will begin to form seed heads in August. At maturity the rice husks will turn to a golden brown and the rice seed inside will be hard. I harvest in late September, cutting the whole plant and bundling into groups of 4. These bundles are then hung in my drying shed for a few weeks until the plant is fully dry. At this point threshing is easy by hand (pulling the grains off) or using a threshing machine. I use a treadle (foot) powered thresher. Rice has an inedible husk that needs to be removed before eating. The most primitive way to accomplish this is by pounding the grains with a stick or mallet on a wood surface (tree stump) in order to loosen the husks. There are small rice dehullers available but very difficult to locate. Brill Engineering offers online tutorials on how to build a small dehuller using easy to locate “off the shelf” parts. http://www.brillengineering.com/
- Alternative planting method. In the spring of 2017 I experimented with direct seeding rice into beds in late May. I had success with early maturing varieties. I recently learned that rice can be direct seeded even earlier; possibly at the beginning of May or late April. I would suggest you conduct some small trials if you are interested in this method. Transplanting has proven to be very reliable for 5 years in a row. Direct seeding is a new concept for me and I can not guarantee the results for any given variety. I am growing in a zone 5b (moving towards a 6).
- Loto Rice
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