Ratoon cropping is an simple old system that has been practiced for many years, especially in the Tropics. Although the origin of ratooning is probably not known for any particular crop, it may have begun when man first noticed the regrowth of new shoots following the cutting of certain crops at harvest, thus, producing a new crop without replanting. Because ratooning is practiced widely and is important in many crops, a review of the practice may be valuable, especially because increased food and fiber production is imperative in tropical areas.
With hand-harvesting it is usually possible to obtain several ratoon crops, and growing and maintaining good ratoons is very important. Ratoon cropping is also practiced to some degree in the following commercial crops: kodra millet in India, ramie, and various grasses used for essential oils, especially the genus Cymbopogon.
In many of the major crops examined, evidence has been found to support the view that under certain conditions, yields of ratooned crops such as sugarcane, cotton, bananas, and forage sorghum have shown no decline over a reasonably long period. Over shorter periods of one or two rations, no yield decline has been recorded in grain sorghum, cotton, pineapple, and other crops.