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The information presented on this page was originally released on May 15, 2009. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Heavy rains delay all state planting
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Heavy rains across the state brought planting and field work to a grinding halt since the first of May, causing some crops to grow rapidly and compete with weeds for needed nutrients.
The state had fairly uniform accumulations and an average of just over 7 inches of rain for the week ending May 10. The Gulf Coast had the least rain, with Biloxi getting less than 1 inch, while Belzoni in the lower Delta recorded the week’s high at 13.56 inches.
All that rain has kept farmers out of the field most of the month of May. Larry Oldham, soils specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said soils dry out at different rates based on whether they contain more sand or clay.
“We have a variety of soil textures across the state and even in the same field,” Oldham said. “If we get in too soon with equipment, we can create structural problems in the soil. Soil that is compacted restricts root growth, reducing the plant’s ability to use nutrients and water efficiently, and limiting its yield potential.”
Erick Larson, Extension grain crops specialist, said the state’s corn is planted and producers need fields to dry quickly so they can apply herbicides and fertilizer.
“We have moderate to severe flooding across much of the state, and that’s stunting the crop and severely restricting any field work that needs to be done now,” Larson said.
Corn is starting to enter its rapid growth stages and will soon be too tall to be worked with conventional field equipment. Options will be to spray a limited variety of herbicides by air or use specialized equipment designed to spray below the canopy.
“We’re getting to the point where the clock is running out on options,” Larson said.
Producers are waiting for the rain to stop before planting about 30 percent of the rice acreage that remains. Nathan Buehring, Extension rice specialist, said yields drop “pretty drastically” when rice is planted after about May 15.
“Yield can be cut by 10 percent to 20 percent when planting late May to early June, but that depends on the weather at pollination and harvest,” Buehring said.
The rice that has already been planted is nearly at the point where fields are flooded, but this can’t be done until herbicides and fertilizers have been applied. Farmers need seven to 10 dry days to get that done, he said.
Only about half the state’s cotton has been planted as of mid-May, and Darrin Dodds, Extension cotton specialist, said he knows of no cotton planted since the first of May.
“The rain pretty much stopped all planting activities, and because of the large amounts of rain we had in places, we’ll probably have some replants,” Dodds said.
He said cotton’s planting window is closing, but farmers need about another week or two to finish getting the crop in the ground.
“I’m afraid if we have another big rain that holds us out of the field, we may see some acres going to soybeans instead of cotton,” Dodds said.
Trey Koger, Extension soybean specialist, said the rains have put this crop behind schedule, too. About 65 percent of the crop was planted by early May, but he estimates 15 percent of this was lost to flooding and will have to be replanted.
“Rains have spread out our planting and management windows,” Koger said. “The crop already is in many growth stages across the state, and that can make management difficult.”