Although rice was introduced to California during the Gold Rush, it took decades for growers to learn the best location and varieties of rice to grow in California. Commercial production began in Butte County in 1912.
Today, California is the largest producer of short and medium grain japonica rice in the United States. In total, the state's rice industry produces more than 2 million tons of rice annually making it the second largest rice growing state in the nation and contributing over $1.3 billion dollars to the state's economy. California's rice is exported to Asia, the Middle East and Mediterranean markets, and is distributed throughout the United States.
Over 95 percent of the California's rice is grown within 100 miles of the State Capitol. For the rural Sacramento Valley communities of Colusa, Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties, rice is the predominant crop and supports an important part of the business and agricultural foundation by providing jobs and economic prosperity.
Our ideal climate, ample water supply and innovative farming techniques result in some of the highest rice yields in the world, while at the same time providing rice of the highest quality.
California's rice fields also support a healthy environment. On the same 500,000 acres where we grow the world's finest rice, California's rice farmers are providing habitat, food and breeding ground for 230 species of wildlife. An estimated 10 to 12 million waterfowl use the Central Valley's wetland habitats each year, including 60 percent of the total number of waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway.
Unique among crops, rice is the only one that supports all of the essential elements of life - diversity, economy, cuisine and environment. California rice truly has a circle of life in every grain.