Arkansas Rice: Considering A Ratoon Crop? Points To Consider

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Several people have asked about the feasibility of transitioning some of this earliest maturing rice into a ratoon crop. Here are a few guidelines to use based on:

  • Limited research and experience in Arkansas.
  • Recommendations from Gulf Coast states.
  • Arkansas weather conditions.

If you attempt a ratoon crop, consider following these guidelines:

  • The taller the combine leaves the stubble, the faster the ratoon crop will mature…but the lower the yield. The shorter the combine leaves the stubble, the slower the ratoon crop will mature but the higher the yield.
  • So, aim to harvest so that stubble height runs about 8 to 12 inches, with preference toward the taller height.
  • Apply water on the field after harvest to keep plants healthy and active. Shallow/wet is fine.
  • If you’re harvesting by about August 15, applying 100 lbs urea per acre could boost ratoon yields. After August 15, the additional N risks delaying the crop too much. Rates above 100 lbs/acre also may delay maturity too much, even when made early. Apply N before putting water on the field again.
  • Every fall will be different and give different results. Yields might run from 25-75 bu/acre (but some fields won’t make anything). No guarantees.
  • Not all cultivars are well suited to ratooning. Hybrids, particularly RT Gemini 214 CL and RT XP753, performed very well in a ratoon trial in 2018. Also notable were Titan, Jupiter, CL272, RT CLXL745 and CL153.
  • RT CLXP4534 will likely be the most widely attempted ratoon crop, but it has not been tested recently or in a 2012 ratoon test.

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  • Early maturity is not an adequate predictor of ratoon crop yield potential. Each cultivar will differ in performance.
  • Harvest of a ratoon crop will be about 90 days after the main crop harvest. So if you harvest main crop August 15, then you may harvest ratoon crop on November 15, provided it has dried enough by that point.
  • Expect low milling yields (head rice and total), but grain will likely be of excellent quality (low chalk).

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