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Hot, dry weather puts stress on state's corn crop

By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi farmers planted another large corn crop, but this year’s corn is suffering from lack of rain.

This season’s plantings are spread over a wide time window because of frequent rainfall north Mississippi. The majority of the crop in the Delta and south Mississippi was planted during late March, but plantings in northern counties were delayed well into May.

“These late plantings will be very dependent upon rainfall during July and August,” said Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi University Extension Service. “Early-planted corn, however, will be ready for harvest in just three weeks.”

Larson said this year’s crop got off to a decent start and hasn’t experienced many pest issues, but drier-than-normal conditions have not been good for the crop. The hot, dry conditions during June and early July have lowered expectations for the state’s corn.

“We have had a lot of drought stress, especially in the southern part of the state,” Larson said. “Of course with the lack of rain, the dryland crop is suffering, but even irrigated acres are likely not going to be as productive as they could be. Yields are just going to be lower this year.”

Another hit to this year’s corn crop is the reduced acreage in the areas affected by the flooding in the Delta.

“There were a fair number of acres in the Yazoo River backwater areas that were destroyed by the flooding,” Larson said. “Probably very little corn was replanted on flooded acres. Most producers replanted with other crops, primarily soybeans and some grain sorghum.”

John Michael Riley, Extension agricultural economist, said prices have been up and down since planting. As of July 14, the September futures market price for corn and the reported Greenville elevator price is $6.75 per bushel. The crop price as of July 14 is $6.98 per bushel.

“There were planting delays in the Midwest because of excessive rain. As a result, the market rallied and prices started going up,” Riley said. “Improved weather after planting and more acres reported recently caused prices to drop. Now, with the tight supply, the prices are going up again.”

Prices are stronger this year because of the increased domestic and foreign demand. Riley said the price increases should be seen as a bright spot for producers. And there is other news that may fuel optimism.

“A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the use of corn for ethanol will exceed the use of corn for feed,” Riley said. “This report indicates that the ethanol demand is not going away.”

Released: July 15, 2011
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