Rice farming, the final chapter

… for rice crop #1, planted in July. Some farmers are planting a second crop which will come out of the fields in March. But the price for rice has dropped to 5 baht per kilo, so many feel they have no motivation to plant a second crop.

The plants get heavy with their grain, turn yellow and flop over. 

…then along come the combines, riding on flatbeds painted-up with airbrushed cartooney action figures, just like karaoke buses. THe combines move on dozer treads, as this is a crop put in with broadcast planting without the sort of furrows you see in American farming.

“Wow!” you must be wondering, “how does a combine take huge unruly mats of dampish rice plants and extract just the grain?” I wondered the same thing. This video does a pretty good job of showing what happens inside a combine. 

Then the rice is raked out onto the nearest hot, dry horizontal surface — often one lane of the adjacent 2-lane road — and dried in the sun. It’s tawny-colored at this stage, until it gets to one of the local mills and all the darker bits are ground off to make white rice. Steamed in a rice cooker, each and every Thai-cooked meal — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — begins with at least two cups of the stuff.

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