AskDefine | Define ratoon

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. A shoot sprouting from the root of a cropped plant, especially sugar cane.
    • 1926, Frank Wesley Pitman, "The Organization of Slave Labor," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 600,
      Their field tasks were somewhat easier than those of the great gang: cleaning and banking young canes, turning over trash or ratoon pieces (canes sprouting from old roots).
    • 1968, Paul C. Ekern, "Phyllotaxy of Pineapple Plant and Fruit," Botanical Gazette, vol. 129, no. 1, p. 94,
      A number of very small fruits from Cayenne ratoons were recently examined.


  1. intransitive of a plant To sprout ratoons.
    • 1893, "Resouces of British Honduras," Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, vol. 1893, no. 82/83, p. 327,
      In the sugar areas to the north and south of the Colony cane has been known to "ratoon" for 20 to 30 years.
  2. To cut a plant, especially sugar cane, so that it will produce ratoons.
    • 1969, M. Menzel; F. Wilson, "Genetic Relationships in Hibiscus Sect. Furcaria," Brittonia, vol. 21, no. 2, p. 100,
      Attempts to propagate them by cuttings (of flowering shoots) and to ratoon the old plants in the greenhouse in November were unsuccessful.

Derived terms


  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.

Extensive Definition

Ratooning is a method sometimes used in sugarcane propagation. This means leaving the lower parts of the cane along with the root uncut at the time of harvesting to give the "Ratoon" or the "stubble crop". This proves beneficial as it provides an early, economic crop each year. However, this method cannot be used endlessly as the yield of the ratoon crop decreases after each cycle. Nonetheless, Ratooning is known to give a steady yield for three years.
Other than early maturation, Ratooning is also beneficial as the cost of cultivation becomes much lower since there is less expenditure of preparing the field and planting.
Ratooning leads to thinner canes with low sugar content. There is also an increasing risk of pests and diseases.
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