Rice was the first "cash crop" in Charleston, grown since the 1690's. Seed of the original 'Carolina Gold' rice were brought to Charleston in the 1780's, and it quickly became the preferred variety. Working closely with the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, USDA ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center and growers from across South Carolina, multiple studies are underway to successfully repatriate 'Carolina Gold' rice and the recently released 'Charleston Gold' rice, an improved variety with the same flavor and cooking qualities.
In addition, multiple heritage and mainstream rice varieties are being tested for their suitability to sustainable and organic fertility, weed, disease and insect management. Rice is cultivated under the traditional flood system and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a system that allows for higher yields with less input of seed, water, and fertilizer. Ultimately, growers are the beneficiaries of this research with multiple options for cultivation platforms, cultural management and proven varieties.
SRI Rice research trial at the Coastal Research and Education Center
Photo by Brian Ward