People heading out on Northwoods lakes and streams are likely not finding wild rice in abundance this season.
DNR wetland habitat specialist Jason Fleener says for the second year in a row, the wild rice crop is well below average...
"....last year was notably a poor season and this year is no different. In the Northwest(part of the state) in the Polk-Burnett-Washburn counties region wild rice is fairing a little bit better, but generally in the Northeast(part of the state) we're seeing some pretty poor crops this year...."
Fleener says our wet spring hurt the crop....
"....overall what we saw were some pretty heavy rainfall events early in the growing season and that really impacts rice growth. Where we are seeing high waters where we're seeing very sparse or no rice at all..."
Fleener says in general rice is maturing later than usual on most lakes so harvesting later is better to ensure more rice falling into the lakes as seed and better rice for eating.
One twist in the law is while rice in lakes is covered under the Public Trust Doctrine and open to the public, rice grown along rivers and flowages could be on private property and permission would be needed to harvest.
Harvest regulations are different whether the water body is within the Chippewa Indian Ceded Territories in off-reservation areas.
A comprehensive look at wild ricing in Wisconsin is available at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission's web page "Off-Reservation Wild Rice Management".
The DNR also has a web page on wild rice at it's website and using the search box feature.