“Heritage Risotto Rice”
This is another upland type, heritage rice from Italy. My seed was sent to me by Sylvia Davatz (Solstice Seed) in Vermont. The research I came across referred to Vialone as an “Italian semifino rice (medium-grain), and is especially appreciated as a risotto rice. While rich in starch (which makes for creamy risottos), the high amylose content allows it to keep its shape and absorb lots of liquids during cooking.”
One very striking aspect is the purplish color on the maturing leaves, stalks and hulls. The rice itself is not purple, but brown in color. Vialone tillered heavily and grew very tall. It had some issues with lodging after periods of very heavy rain. I harvested 126 days after transplanting at the end of May. This puts Vialone nearing the threshold for maturity here in northern Indiana. It produced good yields and is awn-less.
Sylvia shared with me that she originally received 7 seeds from the USDA GRIN for this variety. After a couple of years she had enough seed that was able to share seed with me and other growers. It yielded approx. 15 pounds per 100 square foot. A little less than the Cho Seun Zo Saeng.
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).