Wild Rice Season Opens Friday, But Rice May Not Be Ready

Minnesota’s wild rice harvesting season opens Friday, Aug. 15, and runs through 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.

Rice is ripening similarly to last year. Peak harvesting dates are estimated to be in early to mid-September as long as weather remains mild.

Some beds that held rice last year may have no harvestable rice this fall, said Dave Kanz, DNR area wildlife manager at Aitkin. Scouting will be particularly important this year to find decent stands of harvestable rice.

Here are some rules for harvesting wild rice in Minnesota:

Harvest may take 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.

More information about wild rice management, a list of wild rice buyers and processors, and a list of lakes and rivers containing wild rice is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wildlife/shallowlakes/wildrice.html.

Wild rice harvesting licenes may be purchased online via desktop browser and smartphone at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or any DNR license agent.