NEW for 2020
Sputnik is a modern cultivar developed in Primorskij kraj, which is a federal subject of Russia located across the Sea of Japan from Hokkaido Island. This variety was entered into the USDA’s NPGS in 1997. I obtained my initial seed from Sylvia Davatz in Vermont.
This variety is classified as a short grain brown rice. It is also awnless. Sputnik flowered 51 days from transplanting and matured 97 days from transplanting, The plants reached a height of 3 1/2 foot and had some minor lodging issues after periods of heavy rainfall. The yield was 7 pounds of paddy per 100 square foot.
*I cooked up a pot of the Sputnik and served it with vegetables and homemade peanut sauce. I was surprised at how good this rice turned out. I had expected something very average, but found the flavor to be delicious. I did pearl the Sputnik before cooking. The grains were slightly sticky but separated easily with a fork. Of course, anything served with peanut sauce is bound to be exceptional.
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. I harvest by 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. Weed management is critical early on for young rice seedlings!
- Sputnik Rice
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