Dr. Richard Schulze Sr. had predatory rather than culinary goals in mind when he planted Carolina Gold rice in the mid-1980s.
The Savannah eye surgeon was looking to attract ducks to his Turnbridge Plantation in Hardeeville, SC, about 30 miles northeast of Hilton Head, for hunting, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The birds didn’t much cotton to the long-grain rice, but chefs and rice connoisseurs shortly began to take notice.
Today, Carolina Gold rice is essentially the basis for the U.S. rice industry, no mean feat considering that virtually no one had grown rice in the South Carolina Lowcountry in the previous 60 years before Schulze’s efforts.
Initially, Schulze started by planting regular rice on his plantation. He then decided to switch to Carolina Gold, known as the Cadillac of rice for its taste and quality. The lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia was known for its high-quality Carolina Gold rice prior to 1900, particularly before the War Between the States.
“Well, I figured if we’re going to do rice, why not get the original stuff,” he told the Morning News.
Schulze requested Carolina Gold from the USA Rice Council, and was redirected to a rice research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture in Texas.
He was able to secure 14 pounds of Carolina Gold seed, which he planted in 1986.
Schulze faced the additional obstacle of hulling the seed. Sending rice out of state for milling and then having it sent back was impractical.