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Published August 31, 2010, 09:40 AM

Wild rice harvest may be down by a third this year

Outdoor News
- A long-term study of Wisconsin’s wild rice shows that this year’s harvest might be only a third of last year’s.

A long-term study of Wisconsin’s wild rice shows that this year’s harvest might be only a third of last year’s.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish-and-Wildlife Commission has just completed a two-year study of over 300 wild rice sites in the north. Lead investigator Peter David blames soggy, humid weather for an expected drop in this year’s harvest. The weather has also caused an increase in brown spot disease, which he’s seen on more rice sites than normal. David says the harvest can really vary from year-to-year. He says lakes with a couple hundred acres of rice one year can have almost nothing the next. He says the new study will show annual variations, as well as the long-term trends.

David says he’ll try to share the data with local harvesters, so they know the better lakes to visit. Sokaogon Ojibwa tribal elder Charles Ackley says the harvesters are getting anxious. He says the water gets warm on lakes with falling water levels, and the crop ripens faster. The wild rice study will also show how well restoration efforts have worked between the Great Lakes commission, the state DNR, and local tribes. Researchers hope to find out if wild rice is declining, or maybe rebounding to earlier historical levels.

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