At our family farm, purity, and quality control (PQC) is the highest priority throughout the entire production process. Although maintaining our standards means more procedures and additional work, we believe they are necessary to maintain the integrity of our original seed strains and the purity of our finished rice products.
Our Seed Program – three years to accumulate sufficient seed per sowing
Purity and quality control starts by maintaining an in-house seed development program. In our seed nursery, we hand select each panicle of rice (the cluster of grains on an individual stalk). In the ensuing season, the grains from each panicle are planted in its own row. The half-acre seed plot, which contains over a thousand rows, is monitored for uniformity. If a row from a panicle shows any undesirable trait, it is cut and removed. In the third year, the rice harvested from the seed plot is planted in a 10 to 20 acre plot. In the fourth year, the seed is flown onto a larger seed field. In the fifth year, the seed is used to produce the rice that is processed for consumers. Koda Farms ensures that each variety remains pure by geographically isolating seed plots, thoroughly cleaning all field machinery (tractors, combines, trucks and planes), and annually planting the same variety in a particular field every year. Please note that the overwhelming majority of farming concerns do not go to the lengths or expense that we just detailed. We are considered obsessive in our pursuit of perfection.
While we routinely evaluate new varieties of California rice, they unwaveringly fail to meet our customers’ rigorous and discerning standards. Most of the “advancement” in the new strains has come in the form of higher yields and lower production costs, while taste and quality have been sacrificed. Compared to new varieties, our heirloom Kokuho Rose® is low yielding (less rice per acre), slow to mature (longer growing season), and tall in stature (more difficult to harvest). The payoff is a rice of unequaled character and eating qualities. Needless to say, we see no merit in farming commodity grade crud (which is essentially what dominates the market).
Raising the Standards for Superior Products
Once the rice is harvested, purity and quality control continues in our on-site drying and milling processes. Prior to receiving rice at one of our two dryers, the entire facility is cleaned of rice grains. Receiving areas, conveyor equipment, drying stands, and storage tanks must be swept and vacuumed. The milling equipment receives the same treatment. Additionally, this entire laborious process is repeated whenever the variety of rice is switched, such as changing from Kokuho Rose® to Sho-Chiku-Bai® Sweet Rice.
During the milling process, we monitor all factors that impact the finished product. Although the U.S. Number 1 standard for rice allows 4% broken kernels, Kokuho Rose and Sho-Chiku-Bai Sweet Rice typically average less than 2% broken kernels. This standard, set by Keisaburo Koda, originated in the commitment that customers paying for whole grain kernels should get whole grain kernels. Our customers are literally receiving more rice for their money. Similarly, we feel that customers who select Koda Farms Kokuho Rose or Sho-Chiku-Bai Sweet Rice should only have that variety in their bag without intermingling of other varieties of rice. (Look at a handful of generic Nishiki or say, Homai brand rice and you’ll note odd out of place kernels. This is not up to snuff in our book.)
Koda Farms packages all of its rice products in its own facilities prior to shipping. Our packaging machinery is thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned in order to maintain the purity of the finished product. We do NOT co-pack or do private label packaging for third parties. Finally, although outside trucking lines are used for transport, Koda Farms inspects each shipping container for factors that might affect the quality of the rice in transit.
While these procedures may seem painstakingly tedious, on our farm, they have become routine. As long as customers tell us that our products make a difference, we’ll continue to follow our unbending commitment to total purity and quality control.
Koda Farms is a certified organic facility, indicating that operating procedures and practices are above and beyond conventional standards as mandated by the USDA.