History Present Biological Charakteristics Attributes Grain Quality and Use
Soil, Climate and Temperature Requirements Cultivation and Manuring Crop Management Harvest Postharvest Processing and Storage

Czech rice

(syn.: dew, crabgrass)

(Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.)

Crabgrass Crabgrass


The origin of this plant is probably in Europe. In the past the crop used to be called 'Czech rice' because people prepared it as rice substitute, at the time very expensive. Other name of the plant was 'dew'. In 16th century Mattioli herbarium mentioned Czech rice as an important food in Czech regions and Germany. As time went this crop become very favourite mainly in Slavic countries. At the beginning of 20th century Czech rice started to be replaced by other cereal species.



In the present time Czech rice is well known as a problematic weed (that is why it is also called crabgrass). There are no signs of Czech rice cultivation for its seeds.


Biological Characteristics

It is an annual growing to 0.5 m and has C4 type of photosynthesis. Leaf blades are scabrous or hairy, sheaths and nodes somewhat hairy. Inflorescence is a spike with 3-13 finger-like segments. Spikes are in whorls at the top of the stem, hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind.



Czech rice used to be a very favourite cereal delicacy and on the old time markets was valued more than other common cereals. This plant does not require specific conditions, which is proved by its ability to grow as a weed in temperate, tropical and subtropical zones.


Grain quality and Use

There are no data available but the grain is supposed to be highly nutritious.


Before consumption of Czech rice its husk has to be removed. The most common preparations of the groats are porridge or groatcake, so called 'jahelnik' and soups. Seeds can be ground up and used as wholegrain flour, fine white flour or semolina. It has excellent keeping qualities.


It is valuable and nutritious fodder plant. Czech rice straw is a favourite feed for domestic animals and its quality is almost as good as barley straw. Husks can be fed to ducks.


Fibre from the plant is used in paper production. Czech rice has some medicinal use also. For example, decoction of the plant is used for treatment of gonorrhoea and as a folk remedy for cataracts and debility.


Soil, Climate and Temperature Requirements

This old crop prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soil. It requires moist soil located out of shade. The best are warmer areas. Czech rice can be successfully grown from temperate to tropical zone.


Cultivation and Manuring

Czech rice is strongly extensive crop. It is not a common plant grown at present but its integration in crop rotation is very similar to other cereals.


Crop Management


The most suitable time to sow is during last two decades of May at row spacing 250 mm and more if some hoeing would be applied over the growing season. Sowing rate has to be adjusted to the specific habitus of this strongly tillering plant.


Treatment during growing season

It is suitable to roll just sown fields with grooved roller in order to keep seedbed firmed. At the early stages hoeing can be carried out if possible and necessary.



The right timing of harvest is very important because seeds fall off very easily. Harvesting has to be accomplished very carefully to minimise losses.


Postharvest Processing and Storage

Crop should be separated from impurities and slowly dried up to the optimum amount of moist (approx. 14 %). Grain is better to be stored in husk until used for processing or consumption. Then the husk must be removed.