March 31, 2023
Rice paddy fields of Florida
It's better to plant rice than nothing at all, says Luigi Trotta, Florida Crystals director of farming.

Southeast Florida Roundup

Rice paddy fields of Florida

Rice farming surges in the Everglades - Part of a series on rural Florida

Mike Vogel | 8/28/2017

The Everglades farming area, long synonymous with sugar cane and winter vegetables, has seen a rise in planting in an obscure niche: Rice.

Paddies in the Everglades Agricultural Area this year produced a record crop of 120 million pounds, a 33% increase from 2016. West Palm Beachbased Florida Crystals, a major sugar cane grower, accounted for 22,700 acres of the 28,000 acres in rice production.

Rice farming in the Glades dates to the 1950s, disappeared after a rice virus threat, then returned on a small scale in the 1970s.

The acreage planted this year, while a record, is a fraction of the 470,000-acre Everglades Agricultural Area.

Farmers plant rice from March to June and harvest from July to November. Most Florida rice is long grain.

Florida Crystals recently put $8 million into its Belle Glade rice mill, employing 40 and allowing rice production in the area to increase. The company produces both organic and conventional rice. Florida rice and rice flour goes to the food industry and, beginning this year, to consumers under Florida Crystals’ Florida Table Rice brand.

Luigi Trotta, Florida Crystals director of farming, rice and organic, says that when giving the land a break from sugar cane and sweet corn production, it’s better to plant rice than to let the land lie fallow.

He explains that rice grows in summer, is suited to lots of rain and heat, cleans the water by absorbing nutrients harmful to the Everglades ecosystem, requires no fertilizer and keeps fields covered in water so that weeds can’t grow and the muck soil doesn’t dry out and blow away — a bane called subsidence.

“The best way to preserve the land is to grow something on it,” Trotta says. “Rice is a great crop for land conservation.”

See other stories from Florida Trend's August issue.

Get Florida Trend's August magazine – print or digital. Select from these options:


Access Article Now!


Get a single DIGITAL copy of this issue



Get a single PRINT copy of this issue

plus $3 postage & handling


One year in PRINT

plus a FREE gift!


One year DIGITAL

plus a FREE gift!


One year Combo

plus a FREE gift!


If you are already a print subscriber,
to your existing subscription here!
(or call our office at 727-892-2643)

* offer valid for new subscribers only

Tags: Southeast, Agriculture

Florida Business News

Florida News Releases

Florida Trend Video Pick

Lakeland partners with NuCycle Energy to turn waste into energy
Lakeland partners with NuCycle Energy to turn waste into energy

The City of Lakeland is reducing its reliance on landfills by turning waste into energy. The City is working to become more sustainable by teaming up with NuCycle Energy. The partnership allows businesses to bring their waste to NuCycle Energy’s facility, where it will be turned into an energy fuel product, that replaces fossil fuels.

Video Picks | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Should algal blooms be included in Florida's list of environmental crises (hurricanes, tornadoes) covered by federal disaster relief funds?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • Other (Please share your comments in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

© Copyright 2023 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.