4th Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: Economics: What states produce the most rice?


Rice production dates back nearly 5000 years to ancient China. But rice production in the United States only dates back to the 17th century. Rice has been produced in what is now the United States for more than 300 years dating back to the 1600's. While the first state to grow rice was South Carolina, today rice is grown in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Missouri.


StateProduction Million cwt*Acres Harvested x 1,000
USA Total191.13,044

Source: USDA (Jan. 2001) cwt = 100 pounds

The United States produces long, medium and short grain rice, as well as specialty and aromatic varieties. More than 90 percent of rice consumed in the United States is grown in the United States.

The United States is one of the largest exporters of rice, supplying about 14 percent of the rice that enters world trade. The United States is unique as a major exporter of rice, in that it exports all rice types. U.S. rice is in demand in high quality markets around the world.


EUROPEAN UNION336,581 metric tons
JAPAN308,539 metric tons
MEXICO303,747 metric tons
HAITI213,167 metric tons
CANADA180,199 metric tons
INDONESIA173,243 metric tons
TURKEY111,777 metric tons
SAUDI ARABIA118,842 metric tons
RUSSIA FEDERATION103,413 metric tons
SOUTH AFRICA83,745 metric tons

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Foreign Agriculture Service 1999

There are approximately 30 mills in the U.S. Approximately 15,000 people are involved in producing rice in the United States.

Winter-flooded rice fields provide important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other species. Annually, nearly one million acres of rice fields in the United States are being enhanced to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl.


1. Create a thematic map that uses color and create a key that shows which U.S. states produce rice and the volume that each produces.

2. Create bar graphs to show the following information:

Top 5 rice producers in the world - by volume of production.
Top 10 markets for U.S. rice by how much is exported to each country.
Number of acres dedicated to rice production for each rice producing state in the U.S.

Try out this neat graphing tool on the web. Just type in your values and labels and use the arrows to set your amounts.

3. Write a 3-5 paragraph essay on one of the following topics:

The Five Themes of U.S. rice production. Give examples of how the Five Themes of Geography relate to rice production. Try to include all of the themes (location, place, movement, region and human-environment interaction).
How is rice produced? Include information on planting, harvesting, and milling.


Find recipes for a rice dish and prepare one for your family.
Create a cookbook of rice dishes, categorized by the country that the rice dish comes from.
Create a chart that lists the different varieties of rice, the country where each variety is grown and characteristics of each variety.


  • yield
  • export
  • aromatic
  • habitat
  • waterfowl

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
The Milling Process for Rice:
Getting rice from the field to you takes
a few more steps. Click here to see a video & learn more about the rice milling process.
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