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Throughout the Orient from Pakistan to Japan, teeming million obtain their carbohydrates from rice, which is low in gluten and will not make light bread. The use of rice in the old lands of the East dates back to the unknown past.
Physical and economic conditions. Although rice is grown under differing conditions, it succeeds best where the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) Level land with an impervious subsoil since the plant spends most of its life under water.
(b) At least 125 cm of rainfall with 13 cm or more during the growing season. Deficiency may be compensated for by irrigation.
(c) Temperature of 18°C to 24°C during the growing period and more than 25°C for ripening.
(d) Alluvial soil are usually preferred, deltas, flood plains and low coastal plains provide the required soil conditions
(e) Abundant supply of cheap labour since sowing, transplanting, and harvesting are tedious and time-consuming works.
Methods of Cultivation. About 90% of the world's rice grown in the monsoon lands by traditional methods. Modern methods are employed usually outside this region.
(a) Monsoon. Asia. Almost all the coastal lowlands and wet alluvial valleys are devoted to rice cultivation. In many areas its cultivation has been extended by terracing hill slopes. Oriental farmers divide the land into small compartments or basins in order to retain the monsoon rains or irrigation water.. The water is drained off when the crops start ripening. In Asiatic countries, excepting Japan, the rice cultivation is dominated by animate energy use.
(b) Outside the countries of Monsoon Asia. Rice is cultivated in many other places, which, however, represent a small fraction of the world's output. In some of these places, such as, Louisiana in the U.S.A. and Rhone delta in southern France, rice is grown by mechanized farming methods, which contrast sharply with those traditionally, practiced by the oriental subsistence farmers. Per acre yield is highest in Italy.
Varieties of rice. The great number of different varieties has been perpetuated by tradition and by the comparative isolation of the many cropping areas. There are two main classes JAPONICA, the upland rice with generally a high fertilizer response and INDICA, the swamp or lowland rice, well adapted to tropical conditions with two or more crops a year.