Rice grown in the Katy area is regarded as the finest long grain rice grown in the United States.
In the early days, the land was full of cotton and peanut fields. Rice became the predominant crop in the 1920s. Rice farming began in the Katy area in 1900 and reached its peak in the 1970s. At that time there were more than 300 rice farmers and approximately 75,000 acres of rice fields. That number has dwindled to less than 5,000 acres planted in rice and about 10 active farmers.
Rice harvest starts in the spring. Fields are prepared for planting and when the rice has grown 6-8 inches tall, irrigation and levee watching begin. Rice grows for 90-100 days.
Farmers work 12 – 15 hour days during the rice growing season. Insuring water levels are uniform from one bay of rice to the next; they also keep a constant flow of fresh water on the rice fields. When the fields turn yellow, all irrigation is stopped, the fields are drained and when the ground is dry the combines move in.
Katy’s landmark rice driers still stand at the east edge of the city. As rice production declined the driers closed, the last harvest was processed in 2005.