MISSISSIPPI STATE – Evidence of a healthy national economy may be found in the strength of the timber industry.
Forestry is a billion-dollar industry in Mississippi and the state’s second-largest agricultural commodity. A depressed national economy in recent years had negative impacts on housing construction and furniture manufacturing, which hurt the forestry sector, but industry experts are seeing signs that a recovery is at hand.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Poor weather has created so many rain delays that most of the nation’s row crop planting is behind schedule, and Mississippi is even farther behind than other states.
“We’re a month behind,” said Ernie Flint, an area agronomist who has been with the Mississippi State University Extension Service for 22 years. “I’ve never seen anything that compares with this spring. I’ve seen the Delta planted late but never the whole state.”
Before he came to MSU in 1991, Flint spent 18 years as a crop consultant, so he spoke from a long perspective in agriculture.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s catfish farmers continue to address production challenges as the industry works to reclaim markets lost to imported fish.
Jeremy Robbins, vice president of The Catfish Institute based in Jackson, said farmers have struggled in recent years with high feed prices, their No. 1 expense, while dealing with increased competition from imports.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As pastures transition from cool-season to warm-season grasses, the state’s hay and forage producers hope for sunny days that are better suited to growing and harvesting quality crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Farmers should be nearly finished planting corn and going strong with soybeans, rice and cotton, but instead Mississippi fields are quiet as rain keeps tractors in the barn.
As of late April, the state had gone more than five weeks with only an occasional day or two suitable for planting.
Mississippi corn is in the best shape, at least in terms of the number of planted acres. According to the April 22 U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress and Condition Report, corn is 73 percent planted. Historically, it should be 91 percent complete.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – The impact of last year’s drought on feed costs is not the only challenge poultry growers face in 2013.
Production costs, expansion issues, waste regulations, competition from other meat sources and the next grain crop are major factors impacting the poultry industry this year.
“Some of the corn produced last year had to go to ethanol, so supplies are even tighter and have driven up feed costs,” said Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A significant decline in price potential has last year’s peanut growers looking to other crops in 2013.
According to the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings report, acreage is declining in every peanut-producing state except Oklahoma. Mississippi is expected to post the greatest percentage decline, down 58 percent from the previous year. The state’s peanut acreage is predicted to drop from 52,000 last year to 22,000 acres this season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Cool temperatures through March kept some Mississippians comfortable, but they slowed the development of wheat, the state’s only row crop grown through winter.
Erick Larson, corn and wheat state specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said wheat acreage is high this year, with 420,000 acres planted in the fall. State growers planted 500,000 acres in 2007, but this year marks the second highest planting since 1990.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Christmas tree growers were thinking about the holidays when Hurricane Isaac made landfall Aug. 28, knowing the winds and rains would bring additional work before trees would be ready for the 2012 harvest.
Stephen Dicke, Extension forestry professor at Mississippi State University’s Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said storm damage should not dampen sales of Mississippi’s Christmas trees.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Growing winter wheat in Mississippi leaves no rest for the weary, as planting begins just as soon as the summer row crops are out of the field.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted the state’s winter wheat was 29 percent planted by Oct. 31. It is on schedule for the five-year average, but a good bit behind last year’s early start that saw 45 percent of the wheat planted before November.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s hay producers increased acreage and yields this season in spite of variable rainfall across the state.
“Hay production systems in the central part of the state had a really good season,” said Rocky Lemus, Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist. “We’ve been blessed with quite a bit of rain in central Mississippi, and the hay crop has been better than average.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – With prices and demand for the state’s pecans high, this year’s predicted average to above-average yield is good news for growers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the 2012 crop will yield 2.5 million pounds of pecans. While this yield is down significantly from the 5 million pounds harvested in 2011, it is more in line with the state’s historical average of 2.42 million pounds.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Early October rains that could have devastated the state’s cotton crop seem only to have delayed harvest of what should be near-record yields.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the cotton harvest was a little behind schedule, with just 33 percent of the fields harvested by Oct. 7. However, they rate 67 percent of the crop in good or excellent condition and another 24 percent fair.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s soil and climate are ideally suited to producing sweet potatoes, a crop that gives the state a No. 2 national ranking.
Harvest began about Aug. 20 on Mississippi’s 22,500 acres of sweet potatoes. North Carolina comes in first with 64,000 acres. Acreage in both states varied little from last year. The Mississippi crop was valued at nearly $66.5 million in 2011.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Many Delta fields that once turned white with cotton are now yielding a below-ground crop and helping propel Mississippi up the list of peanut-producing states.
The state has an estimated 47,000 acres of peanuts this year, up more than 200 percent from the 14,000 acres grown in 2011. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the crop is slightly ahead of schedule, with 8 percent of peanuts harvested by Sept. 2. More than 80 percent of the crop is rated in good or excellent condition.