Status message

To participate, you must create a profile and join this project

Dryland Rice for Northern Cultivation

There is great potential for growing dryland, or upland, rice in organic cultivation in more northern regions. The purpose of this project is to trial the Italian variety "Loto" — which has been grown successfully in Vermont — to identify its possible range.



Sylvia Davatz has been saving seed and experimenting with useful plants for over 20 years. We collaborated on designing this project together. We ran the project last year (2018), with some success (and plenty of failure), but we are going to keep on keeping on. We are looking to get good data on this "Loto" rice variety, and we are especially trying to test how far north is can successfully be grown.


Upland rice does not require a paddy for cultivation, making it an excellent candidate for growing in the field or in a home garden. It is grown in moderately fertile garden soil without the need for more irrigation than other grain or vegetable crops. "Loto" is a cultivar from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. It is grown in the Italian-language canton of southern Switzerland, making it the northern-most rice cultivation in Europe. It has now been grown for several years in Vermont, indicating that it can thrive even in the US Northeast.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the potential for the organic cultivation of Loto in northern regions, and it's ability to be a reliable crop for the home garden or small-scale commercial growing.

Farmers, homesteaders, and smaller-scale growers are invited to participate. We are hoping for about 20 participants in the project, mainly from more northern regions of the country, but no colder than Zone 4b. However, we won’t turn down growers from other parts of the country. Ideal growers have some gardening experience, although you do not need to have grown rice before. Our cut-off date for signing up for the project is Sunday, March 18th (2018).

To join you will first need to create a profile on this website, and then join the project. We'll contact you, confirming your interest in participating. Then, around mid March we'll send you seed, detailed growing instructions, and an observation form which you'll be asked to fill out and return to us by the end of the season.

We ask you to commit to growing at least 20 plants and to keeping careful records of specific data, for instance your USDA zone, soil type, growing methods (organic is preferred), harvesting methods, and yield, as well as dates to flowering, maturity, and harvest. We have a google form made up, so you can get familiar with the data we are asking you to take now:

Researcher background
Sylvia Davatz has been saving seed for over 20 years, with an emphasis on crops that are particularly suited to her region. She experiments widely with crops that might be viewed as borderline. Over the years this has included sweet potatoes, quinoa, peanuts, perennial grains, and most recently, upland rice. Her garden includes many permaculture features and her main interest is in identifying crops that will feed us year-round. For nine years she issued the Solstice Seeds catalogue, offering rare and endangered open-pollinated seeds and encouraging seed saving. As a native Swiss, she’s a member of the Swiss seed saving nonprofit ProSpecieRara, as well as the Austrian organization Arche Noah. She believes deeply in the importance of seed diversity, and in the need to pass these skills on to the next generation.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
How many volunteers do you need?
What will you ask volunteers to do?
For $3—to cover postage— you'll receive a packet containing approximately 65 rice seeds, plus detailed instructions for growing the variety, including germination, planting, spacing, care during the growing season, and harvesting. We'll ask you to commit to growing at least 20 plants and to keeping careful records of specific data, for instance your USDA zone, soil type, growing methods (organic is preferred), harvesting methods, and yield, as well as dates to flowering, maturity, and harvest.
Is this a multi-year project?
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course
Researcher Location

United States

Project Updates

How did this project go?

project update by
Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 06:34

Hello, wondering how this project went? I'm a farmer in Lillooet BC, Canada (Zone 6b, irrigated sandy loam soil)and I've been looking for a dryland rice.. I was born in the italian part of Switzerland too so this variety is of special interest to me
We've been organic for 30 years (stopped being certified 10 years ago), have a small herd of cattle, and have been growing Red Fife wheat and sunflowers for oil for ourselves for a long time, we have a small combine, lots of seeding and tillage equipment, and wouldn't mind trying this, we'd like to start with ~1lb or more of seed as propagating from 65 seeds would just take too long
Here's a picture of our wee little combine in the Red Fife wheat

Continuing the dryland rice project! Updates?

project update by
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 02:21

Hello everyone,

I am a grain head from the West who would love to see this group rekindled for I love, and wish to grow more, rice in the hills.

What are people's experiences, harvests, considerations, and so on about the varieties you've tried?

I have a small plot of Loto at my home, and tend a 1/3 acre worth of heirloom small grains. Would love to see Loto growing in Idaho.