Arkansas Rice: Ratoon Cropping – Tips For People Who Want To Roll The Dice

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A viable ratoon crop in Arkansas is generally rare. However, given the early planting this year, some are interested in attempting to produce a ratoon crop of rice.

Ratoon production is rarely pursued in research here because the environmental conditions that allow for second cropping don’t consistently develop in Arkansas.

However, there are a few guidelines that can be followed if attempting a ratoon crop.

Generally, a ratoon crop should only be attempted in Arkansas if rice harvest occurs prior to August 15th. Again, this is an area that needs research, but based on average temperature trends and limited trials, this date is a good reference point.

In the event that harvest occurs by this point, no more than 100 lbs/acre of urea should be applied post-harvest and a shallow flood established.

DO NOT apply greater amounts of nitrogen or the ratoon crop will likely be delayed too long and the rice will not mature in time to make a crop. Given the current extended forecast, 75 lbs/acre may be a better approach.

Harvesting rice in a manner that leaves stubble at a height of 8-12 inches would be ideal. DO NOT manipulate stubble any further by mowing or rolling. This will also delay any potential for a ratoon crop.

The taller the stubble height is left, the quicker a ratoon can be produced but the yield gets lower.

In an ideal year with high temperatures a ratoon yield in Arkansas can reach 100 bushels per acre. In a suboptimal year with mild temperatures such as this year, with a little luck yields may range from 20-70 bushels per acre. It is up to the individual to determine if the risk is worth the reward.

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