2nd Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: History: How did farming of rice start in the United States?


The successful farming of rice in the United States started by mere chance. A storm damaged ship docked in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. The ship, carrying rice seed, came from Madagascar. The captain of the ship gave a small bag of rice to a local planter as a gift. It was in 1685. The crop was produced on the coastal lowlands and islands of, what is now, South Carolina.

Rice farmers in South Carolina and Georgia continued cultivating rice for about 200 years. Early in the 18th century rice spread to Louisiana. It wasn't until the 20th century that it was produced in California's Sacramento Valley.

In the 1880's, rice production spread through the coastal prairies of southwestern Louisiana to southeast Texas. Today, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, California, and Texas produce more than ninety percent of the rice eaten in the United States. And, rice grown in the U.S. is sent to more than 100 countries.

At first, the farming of rice in the U.S. was done without the help of machines. Rice could not be planted over large areas. The rice grown was eaten in nearby towns and communities or sent by ship to other countries.

Gradually, machines came into use for growing and milling rice. It started in Louisiana and Texas. By this time, farming of rice in South Carolina, where it had first started, had stopped.

In 1904, rice seed was imported from Japan. The Japanese Emperor gave the rice seed as a gift to the U.S. It was a special high-yield variety. The yield produced from this seed was fourteen barrels per acre more than what had been produced before. The new variety of rice was used in many rice farms in Texas and Louisiana

Rice farming slowed down during the First World War and the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The U.S. government helped rice farmers so that they would not stop growing rice.

Since then, rice farms in the United States have become very large. U.S. rice farmers use modern technologies to produce rice valued throughout the world for its quality. United States rice farmers practice the most modern, efficient and environmentally safe farming methods in the world.


Using an outline map of the USA, mark the progress of rice farming. Use arrows to show where rice was first grown and how it moved from one region to another.


Find the region in California where the most rice is produced. Write three sentences that tell what you have learned.

  • cultivators
  • docked
  • harbor
  • yield
  • barrels
  • previously
  • efficient

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
Baldo is actually a type of specialty rice grown right here in the U.S. Other types include basmati, jasmine and arborio.
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