Every summer in late July and early August, the Katy area rice harvest begins.
Rice grown in the Katy area is regarded as the finest long grain rice grown in the United States. Katy’s landmark Rice Dryers dot the east edge of the city.
Rice farming began in the Katy area in 1898 with its height in the late 1960’s. In the early days, the land was full of rice fields, and there were more than 300 rice farmers. That number has dwindled to 9,500 acres planted in rice and about 15 active farmers.
Rice harvest starts in the spring. Fields are prepared for planting and when the rice has grown 8-10 inches tall, irrigation and levee watching begin. Rice grows for 90-100 days.
Farmers work 12 – 15 hour days during the rice growing season. Insuring water levels are uniform from one bay of rice to the next; they also keep a constant flow of fresh water on the rice fields. When the fields turn yellow, all irrigation is stopped, the fields are drained and the combines move in.
The American Rice Growers Association located in Katy, operates one of the last three commercial driers in the Katy area. They dry only Katy grown rice. However, they grade and sell the rice from the other area driers and the farmers who still maintain their own rice driers. Most of the Katy grown rice is sold to ARI where it is milled in the finest long grain rice in the United States.