SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California is celebrating 100 years of commercial rice production this year, marking the anniversary of a commodity that has evolved to become one of the state's most important agricultural exports.
Farmers began experimenting with rice growing during the Gold Rush more than 160 years ago, but it wasn't until 1912 that the first commercial production started in the Sacramento Valley.
California has since become the nation's largest producer of sticky rice, with much of the high-quality product shipped to Japan and other Asian countries. The state's growers ship nearly 5 billion pounds of rice each year as far away as Europe and the Middle East.
Most sushi in the U.S. is made with California rice.
Rice was the state's fifth largest agricultural export in 2010, the most recent year available.
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