The Best-Ever Brown Rice

By Nancy Smith, Board Member

Farm to Family Naturally


Living in rice-growing country, I am fascinated by watching the various stages of rice-growing.  My house is right in the middle between the Bootheel of Missouri and the rice-growing regions of Northeast Arkansas.  Visitors are often amazed to see such an “exotic” crop growing in a “down-home” part of the country.

Arkansas leads the nation in rice production.   But finding organic rice in rice country can be difficult.  Conventional rice growers will tell us that the very special conditions required by rice preclude the crop rotation required by organic certification standards.

“Not so”, say Ron and Willadean  Hogue of Wiener, Arkansas. “Why, half of our acreage is in soybeans at any given time, while the other half is in rice, and then we rotate them the next year,” says Willadean.  “Our family just cares about good health and wouldn’t want to grow rice any other way.”

The town of Wiener is near Jonesboro, Arkansas, and only about an hour away from my home in southern Missouri.  The little town is dominated by the huge rice mill owned by the Hogue family and the sign “Southern Brown Rice”.  The Hogues are in the fourth generation of farming this land.  Their certified organic long, medium and short grain rice are clean and great-tasting.  Their certified organic white or brown Basmati rice have the wonderful popcorn aroma that is characteristic of  this variety.

Southern Brown Rice fields are planted in the early spring.  Three weeks after emergence, rice is usually 6 to 10 inches tall and ready to flood.  A shallow flood of two to four inches is then applied and maintained for about 80 days, using a system of manmade levees. The water is supplied from irrigation wells which are 150 feet deep.

Rice fields are drained as the grain matures.  Harvest begins when the moisture of the grain reaches 18%.  Grain is dried slowly and stored in storage bins until it is milled.  To maintain the high quality for which Southern Brown Rice is famous, each order is milled when it is received.

The only reason Sappington Farmers Market has not carried Southern Brown Rice previously is that their rice was only available in 25-lb. bags.  Now, thanks to our new wall of bulk bins, we can offer this superior organic produce to our customers. We’re excited to be able to offer this and other great products from our region for your health and enjoyment.

Sappington Farmers Market is located at 8400 Watson Road between Elm Ave. and Laclede Station Road.