A fall tradition: Bringing in the wild rice harvest
September 19, 2022
It all starts with building a wood fire early in the morning to create the bed of glowing coals needed to parch rice through the day.
John Hayes and John Beltman are tending the fire. They’ve brought several large sacks of recently harvested wild rice to be processed in a tin roofed shed in Ball Club, about midway between Cass Lake and Grand Rapids.
They’ve been harvesting wild rice in the area for about 30 years.
“We try to end up with at least 300 pounds off the water,” said Hayes, who works as an attorney in Cohasset. “On a good day, in a peak year, it’s 300 pounds of green rice in a day, but you don’t get that every year,” adds Beltman, who lives in Suomi and works at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids.