Mixed Year Predicted For Wild Rice On Northwoods Lakes

Sep 3, 2019

Wild rice
Credit Wisconsin DNR

It's ricing season on Northwoods lakes, but the crop again this year isn't as productive as past years, especially in this region.

DNR wetland habitat specialist Jason Fleener says ricing success depends on where you go..

"It's not going to be a whole lot different. Over the last five years I'd say we're below the long-term average for wild rice production. So this year isn't likely to be any worse overall. It always depends lake-to-lake, their so dynamic in terms of rice abundance. Overall there's certainly a lot of places for people to pick wild rice and there's lot of opportunity for success...."

Several waters in Polk county and the Northern Highland regions are struggling to produce rice this year. Sustained high water tables have raised lake levels, especially in north-central Wisconsin, are affecting wild rice production.

Fleener outlines how high water hurts wild rice...

"...Wild rice kind of has a 'sweet spot' in terms of water depths. If it's too deep, the beds don't germinate as well. Overall, lakes are good in other parts. It depends how the winters are. If you have an average or harsh winter it tends to lead to good rice production."

Another factor in diminished yields are boat wakes. Recreational boaters, anglers and early teal and goose hunters are encouraged to take precautionary measures as wave action has shown to cause damage to the beds. This is especially true as they're maturing throughout the spring and summer. Watercraft usage directly in wild rice beds cuts and injures plants and is illegal.

More information is on the DNR website by putting 'wild rice' in the search box.

More information is also on the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission website.

We have links here and here.

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