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Wetland Rice Cultivation

Rice in Chiang MaiRice Harvest in Chiang MaiRice, Oryza Sativa, was domesticated in the region more than 4000 years ago. The life cycle of the plant takes 100-210 days depending on the variety. In the North, the cycle begins with ploughing when there has been sufficient rain (May-June) to allow water to stand in the fields.

Seeds are planted in specially prepared nurseries and the seedlings are allowed to grow to height of about 15-30 centimeters (3-6 weeks).

Then comes the back-breaking work of transplanting the young plants into fields flooded to just below the tops of the seedlings. The water level is maintained throughout the growing season. This helps keep down the weeds as well as provide a source of protein from the numerous fish and crabs that live in the water and mud. The rice is harvested after the fields become dry at the end of the rainy season (September-October).

In northern Thailand, glutinous rice (sticky rice), which has a kind of starch that breaks down easily when cooked, is widely grown. It is better suited to areas with poor soils, erratic rainfall and shorter growing seasons. It tends to keep better after cooking and its higher sugar content makes it better for making alcohol.

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