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Minnesota wild rice harvest rebounds

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Wild Rice
In a file photo, Joe Hoagland, left, pushes a canoe through a wild rice bed in White Earth, Minn., as 14-year-old Chris Salazar learns how to harvest the rice by knocking the grain off the stalks with two sticks.
Jim Mone/Associated Press

After a bad crop last year, wild rice appears to have bounced back across central  and northern Minnesota.

"Last year we had lots of rain in the northeast part of the state where most of the wild rice occurs," said Jon Schneider, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in Minnesota. 

The rain had an adverse effect on the crop because wild rice is very sensitive to rapid changes in water depth, and fast-moving water can uproot the fragile wild rice plants from a lake's bottom, Schneider said.  

"This year, it's a much better situation. It's about an average wild rice crop, and it's good from central throughout northern Minnesota," he said. 

Ducks Unlimited works with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to monitor conditions in 100 lakes where wild rice grows. Schneider said the plant is an important food and cover source for waterfowl. 

The DNR requires a license for those harvesting wild rice. The state's wild rice cultivation season began in August and ends Sept. 30.