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Wild Rice Crop "Spotty", Good In Forest, Not So In Oneida And Vilas

Wisconsin DNR

It depends where the lakes are located, but wild rice is either good or having another bad year.

A biologist says Oneida, Price and Vilas counties are not having a good year, but Forest county is.

The crop is sought each year as a tasty and nutritious food gathered fresh from the Northwoods.

Peter David is a wildlife biologist for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission...

"....If you're looking across the entire state, Oneida and Vilas counties are among the poorest spots. It's unfortunately like last year where a small number of sites are going to be are going to be offering good harvesting potential. Interestingly by the time you get to Forest county things are quite a bit imporved. Several lakes over there look pretty good...."

Peter David says wild rice is very dependent on water but not as you might think...

"....Generally the rice crop is inversely related to the amount of rain we get. The drier and droughtier years tend to produce the best crops. The last two years have been anything but dry...."

Again, that matters where the rain has fallen....

"...Forest county, it's strange, it's almost like the county line seems to make a difference but some of the rice beds in(Forest county) look good. Things don't look too bad in the Hayward area. Then as you move farther west it's spotty. Some spots look pretty good, but we also have some concerns about brown spot disease...." That disease curtails seed production.

Another factor in rice production is wave action, especially from motor boats. GLIFWC  has a website with a report on the rice status on commonly harvested waters. You can also get more information on the DNR website. Opening harvest dates are determined jointly by the DNR and tribal officials.

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