Interest grows in Carolina Gold rice

By Tom Lollis

Carolina Gold RiceThe rice that made Charleston the richest city in the British colonies is getting renewed attention because of the dedication of a Clemson scientist. Carolina Gold rice was once grown on more than 75,000 acres in the Lowcountry; but the freeing of slaves ended large-scale rice production in South Carolina.

To preserve the heirloom crop, Clemson scientist Merle Shepard organized the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. In August, the foundation held a national symposium that drew 135 rice planters, agriculturalists, cultural historians, chefs and scholars to Charleston for a taste of history and cuisine.

“We wanted to ensure that Carolina Gold would be around for years to come and that the public would be aware of its importance,” said Shepard, foundation board chairman. He is growing Carolina Gold and testing new varieties at Clemson’s Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston.

Glenn Roberts, president of the rice foundation said, “Last year only 10 acres of Carolina Gold were grown in South Carolina. This year we’ll have 60 acres and next year we hope to have 200.”

For information: Merle Shepard, 843-402-5393,