CHUNKY, Miss. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted countless traditions in 2020, but it will not keep living rooms across Mississippi from featuring Christmas decor, nor will it deter customer demand for fresh trees.
In fact, business is booming at farms that have opened for the season, said Southern Christmas Tree Association President Michael May.
The process of planting this year’s soybean crop in Mississippi has been anything but normal.
The only consistent variable has been rain, and a lot of it -- from an unusually wet winter and spring to the stormwater the state received from Hurricane Barry. Growers have done their best to plant in tight windows of time when both the clouds and the ground were dry. A long, stop-start planting season has been the result.
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- The third week of March is usually the beginning of rice planting season in Mississippi, but fields were not dry enough to hold tractors until May in most locations.
Many growers were still scrambling to get rice in the ground by early June due to unusually high rain amounts in the first quarter of 2019. While more than 90 percent of the crop had been planted as of June 3, only 74 percent had emerged, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is well behind the five-year average of 92 percent emerged by this date.
Mississippians looking for locally grown Christmas trees have several varieties to choose from but should be prepared to shop early for the best selection.
John Kushla, a Mississippi State University Extension Service specialist and research professor who specializes in agroforestry and Christmas trees, said there are several ways to test for freshness when choosing the perfect tree at a tree farm.