3rd Grade - Science

LESSON PROBLEM: Biology: Why is climate important to growing rice?


Rice first appeared on this planet as a wild grass. It grew in wetlands and marshes. These were the lands where few other plants could grow. The early rice plant liked a warm and damp climate. In this kind of climate it grew very well. That is why it was first found in Asia around the countries of China and India.

However, rice is a surprising plant. It can grow in many different kinds of climates. Rice grows on every continent except Antarctica. It grows well in places like Bangladesh in water as deep as two and a half feet. It grows extremely well in California, where the annual rainfall is less than 10 inches and where there is water for irrigation. And, it grows where there is more than 50 inches of rainfall each year. It grows in lush, moist tropical plains and valleys. It grows in steep, mountain lands where rice fields have been cut into the side of mountains.

We usually think rice grows where there is lots of rain. We thought rice needed to grow in water up to our ankles until harvest. Rice scientists and farmers have developed a rice plant that grows and produces a lot of rice in a drier climate. Rice is no longer thought to be a plant that grows in climates where there is a lot of rain. It can grow where the rainfall is very low. It also grows very well where rainfall is heavy. The rice plant can take rains as heavy as 197 inches during the monsoons or the rainy season of Burma in Asia. It can grow in Saudi Arabia where rainfall is no more than 4 inches a year and the plants are flooded with ground or well water.

The rice plant also adjusts well to different temperatures. It can grow in temperatures as low as 63°F and it does fine in temperatures up to 97°F.

In the United States, the major rice producing states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, California, and Texas. The climate in these states is very different. Rice grows well in California where it is semi-arid. And it grows well in the humid subtropical climate of Louisiana and Texas where the rainfall can total 700-1000 mm.

All of these states fall between 27°N - 40°N latitude. They all have long growing seasons. Texas is between 27°N latitude - 31°N latitude. California falls between 32.5°N latitude - 42°N latitude. Compared to other rice producing regions of the United States, California has an advantage. It is semi-arid and located at a higher latitude. This area gets the most solar radiation and so rice crops benefit. The rice yield per acre is very high.

Rice farming requires clay soils where other crops do not grow well. Clay can hold water on the field for a long time so it does not seep away. Rice crops can be grown using nearly the same or less water than other crops. Clay soil is good for rice cultivation. The delicate looking rice grain grows on a hardy grass. This important crop can grow in many different kinds of climates.


On a map of the United States find the latitude and longitude for each of the major rice producing states. Color the states and mark the rice producing areas for each state.


List the six major rice producing states. Based on what you know list the kind of climate for each state. Compare your answers to weather reports for each state.


  • wetlands
  • marshes
  • Bangladesh
  • monsoons
  • Burma
  • Saudi Arabia
  • semi-arid
  • humid
  • subtropical
  • latitude
  • radiation

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
Rice Farm Animals:
Rice farms have lots of animals. Click here to learn more about rice farms and the animals that live there.
Home | Math | Social Studies | Science | Health | Games | Students

© 2004 USRPA, A non-profit association based in Houston, Texas
All Rights Reserved

USRPA does not discriminate in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of information (such as Braille, large print, sign language interpreter) should contact USRPA at 713-974-7423.