Wild rice season opened Friday
Minnesota’s wild rice harvesting season is open from Friday, Aug. 15, to Tuesday, Sept. 30. Despite the season dates, harvesters must first ensure the rice is ripe before launching their canoes, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota’s green rice law does not allow the harvesting of unripe rice, and the late spring means some rice stands may be slow to mature.
More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties.
In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of Native American culture, wild rice is an important food staple for migrating waterfowl each fall and the growing plants provide important habitat for fish and invertebrates.
Because of the grain’s importance, harvesting wild rice is regulated in Minnesota. Some guidelines to consider before deciding to harvest wild rice include:
- Harvest takes place from a non-motorized canoe, 18 feet or less in length, utilizing only a push pole or paddles for power.
- Rice is collected by using two sticks, or flails, to knock mature seeds into the canoe. Flails can be no longer than 30 inches, and must weigh less than one pound each.
- Harvesting licenses cost $25 per season, or $15 per day, per person for Minnesota residents.
- There is no limit to the number of pounds people may harvest with a permit.
- Processing is necessary to finish the rice into its final food product.
- The gathering process is labor-intensive.
Like other forms of gathering, allowing ample scouting time will lead to greater success. Accessing some lakes can be difficult and some lakes and rivers within tribal boundaries are not open to public harvest. Finding a mentor who is willing to share their skills and knowledge can greatly improve success.
It is unlawful for any person to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for Native Americans or residents of the reservations listed.
In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have Leech Lake Reservation permits.
Harvesting licenses can be purchased online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or any DNR license agent.