Let’s Get Harvesting

Texas rice producers are working on harvesting their second crop of the year and are seeing better yields than last year’s harvest, with Wharton County about 40 percent finished harvesting their ratoon crop.

Harvesting their second crop of the year, local rice producers are finding good yields and fair weather conditions.

Rice producers in Wharton, Jackson and nearby counties are in the process of harvesting their ratoon crop, which grows after the first crop is harvested.

“It’s actually been a really good year for the second crop,” Ganado rice producer Michael Skalicky said. “We haven’t gotten any rain, we’ve been able to drain, and the (harvested crop) is really dry. Usually we cut the second crop in the mud, because if you get a rain this late in the year it really stays wet.”

Statewide, the ratoon crop is the best it has been in years, according to the Texas Farm Bureau. So far, the harvest is showing yields of about 2,000 to 3,800 pounds per acre in the Wharton County area, with projections of 4,000 to 5,500 pounds per acre.

“The 2020 rice crop was similar to that of the 2018 crop,” AgriLife Extension agent Corrie Bowen said. “Good yields, but ratoon has some challenges right now. The weather that we had in October has delayed maturity.”

Skalicky has a little more than half of his ratoon crop harvested. His yields so far have been between 25 and 27 barrels for each of his fields, and he hopes his last fields will yield about 30 barrels.

“It’s looking good,” Skalicky said. “As far as yields, they’re kind of in line with what we expected.”

An active hurricane season left Wharton County largely unscathed, but producers did battle some flooding brought by tropical storms. Peak hurricane season runs from late August through early September for the Gulf Coast regions.

“We had some of those tropical systems that came through during harvest, leaving some wet field conditions for rice,” Bowen said.

The storms had more of an impact on the first rice crop of 2020 than on the ratoon crop, according to Skalicky.

“The tropical storms that hit affected the first crop more than the second crop,” he said. “We haven’t had rain on (the ratoon crop) since I don’t know when.”

Bowen estimates almost 40 percent of the ratoon crop in Wharton County has been harvested as of last week. If producers don’t finish harvesting soon, they’ll have more weather challenges to battle in the coming weeks.

“The first frost is right around the corner, so hopefully they can get the crop out before frost,” Bowen said.

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