Moon setting behind rice field as farmers head to work before sunrise.

Farmers Behind Hinode Rice Harvest 2015

It is hot, dry, and dusty here in the Central Valley and the 2015 rice harvest is underway for Hinode. The growing season started with uncertainty as we all waited for water to be allocated across California last spring. But that didn’t curb the commitment our farmers share to continue their family businesses through drought.

Thank you to everyone who cut back their water use this summer. And thank you to all our farmers who managed their resources closely to make this year’s rice harvest possible. With drought and wildfires on our mind, we are excited to share that Hinode rice harvest is progressing smoothly.

Farmer’s Perspective

We spent some time out in the fields this week to experience rice harvest through the eyes of our farmers. As one Hinode farmer puts it, “Harvest, is rewarding. Driving all the equipment and being so busy. I like seeing everything we grow pile up high in the trailers.”

Central Valley farmer of Hinode rice entering combine to start harvesting rice for the day.
Farmer starting his day driving the combine/harvester.

Another shares, “I sleep well during harvest. No wonder, when my days start before dawn. By sunrise we’ve already met with our team and moved all the equipment to the fields we’re working. ”
Farmer shares stories about farming rice used by Hinode that is grown in the Central Valley
Farmer of Hinode rice shares stories about harvest.

Reading Moisture

Today, we start by checking moisture readings of rice samples cut from the field. The moisture reading results are coming in at 19%. Grains need moisture to minimize damage against machinery used to cut the stalks, separate the grains, dry the rice and especially during the milling process. It protects the grains of rice so they don’t get burnt or broken. The moisture also can’t be too high or it makes the grains susceptible to mildew, spoilage and pests.

Farmer testest rice samples from the field before they decide if it is ready for harvest.
Testing rice samples before harvesting grains from the field.

We’ve gotten the go ahead to harvest today, but the dew needs time to evaporate before we get started. There is plenty of work to be done as all the equipment is put in place. Harvesters, bankout trucks and belly dump trailers are lined up along the field. We watch them coordinate their location, talking back and forth in code over their radios.
red bankout trucks, belly dump trucks, and harvesters in position for rice harvest
Equipment used for rice harvest positioned in field.

Harvesting Equipment

The inside cab of the harvester is very technologically advanced, with GPS guided routes and real time readings of moisture, yields (how many pounds of rice per acre) and position of machinery as it pushes through the stalks of rice. Just when all the settings have been optimized with onboard computations, a sensor indicates the harvester is nearing capacity and needs to empty its rice. Within seconds the bankout truck pulls up parallel to the harvester and we are driving side by side across the field.

Driver uses monitoring devices to optimize yields during rice harvest in combine with GPS tracking.
GPS technology and monitoring devices inside cab of a rice combine guide driver through field.

An arm swings out from the side of the harvester toward the bankout truck and rice flows out the spout into the bankout truck. Not a second wasted at these slow speeds as we continuously cut, separate and transfer the rice grains all at the same time.
john deer tractor arm with spout uses auger to transfer rice to red bankout truck.
Rice transferred from combine to bankout truck while harvesting rice.

The bankout truck then heads down the dirt road where a belly dump truck is waiting to receive the load of rice. Finally it is time to leave the field and find our way back to the grain silos.
rice harvest in the filed with bankout truck filling rice into belly dump truck.
Rice travels through arm of bankout truck and into belly dump truck.

Silo Storage

Full of rice, the belly dump truck driver heads to the silos where a team of farmers are awaiting their arrival. The truck drives up on a scale to get their gross weight before dumping its load at the silos.

Belly dump truck brings rice to silos where it is weighed in on a scale.
Truckloads of rice up to 80,000 lbs. check-in at scale upon arrival to grain silos.

More moisture readings are taken and documented as the farmers determine how many passes it should take through the “dryer” before storage. A bucket of rice is pulled out of every trailer for testing. After weighing the trucks and testing the rice, the farmer pulls the truck over the grates to dump all of the rice on to a conveyor belt underneath that distributes it into the silo elevators.
Hinode rice flows from belly of truck into grate with auger underneath move grains into silos.
 Hinode medium grain Calrose rice flows from belly of truck into grate.

In the silos, where the rice will be stored until it is milled and packaged for sale, dryers circulate air through tinny holes in a metal floor while augers circulate the rice around evenly to prevent pockets of moisture from developing.
Hinode rice grains travel through augers up elevators and down spouts into the grain bins.
Rice flows from grain elevator into silo.

Celebrating Harvest

At the end of this long day of harvest, we take rest and appreciate our surroundings. To our farmers we say “thank you and congratulations on a job well-done.” Many of us are family members working together in the fields, if not by blood, then by the camaraderie for the work we were born to do.

View of rice fields from top of elevator at grain silos.
Rice fields surrounding grain silos.

The next time you pick up a bag of Hinode rice at the store, or sit down to eat with your family, we hope you’ll remember this story and the effort that went into each grain of rice. Happy Hinode Harvest from our fields to your forks!
Farmer on harvester holding bags of Hinode Calrose white and brown whole grain rice during harvest.
Farmer celebrating harvest with bags of Hinode Calrose medium grain rice.

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