MISSISSIPPI STATE – Pecans are one Mississippi crop not taking a beating from excessive fall rains, but until the pecans are out of the orchard, the crop is not out of the woods.
Pecan growers are trying to harvest a better-than-average crop and take advantage of good early-season prices. Experts anticipate a more than 2-million-pound pecan harvest in the state. The national crop is expected to be about 300 million pounds, up 100 million pounds from last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Near-constant rains during harvest-time cost Mississippi farmers an estimated $371 million in losses, and producers with crop insurance may be the only ones able to salvage much more from the fields this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Harvest season rains have robbed soybean growers of strong yields and bean quality, reducing profits in an already challenging year.
“We were harvesting a beautiful crop with outstanding yields before the rains came the last two weeks of September,” said Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Now that farmers are finally back in fields, we are seeing average yield losses of 5 percent to 10 percent.”
In addition to the yield losses, damage estimates average between 5 percent and 20 percent.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Nearly 80 percent of the state’s corn crop is safely in storage, and the remaining acres are ready for harvest but stuck in wet fields getting rain-drenched for days.
Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the corn harvest is largely complete in the southern part of the state, including the south Delta. However, the corn in the northern areas of the state was planted later and most remains in the fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi’s timber owners are keeping a close watch on the national housing market with hopes that the worst economic times are behind them.
“Recovery in the U.S. housing market is key to Mississippi’s sawtimber markets, and it appears that the beginnings of a recovery are emerging,” said James Henderson, forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Pending home sales and single-family construction have increased most months in 2009.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The weak economy and high costs of production have given poultry companies a strong incentive to curtail production in spite of increased prices.
Feed accounts for about 70 percent of the cost of broiler production. As feed prices have stayed high, production has lowered, reflecting a loss in revenue for the state’s growers.
““Compared to last year, fuel costs are down, but the general cost of doing business is making tight margins even tighter,” said Michael Kidd, head of Mississippi State University’s poultry science department.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Though heavy rains this spring delayed some of the state's rice planting, warm, sunny days in June and July helped the crop along, and by late Aug., Mississippi farmers were pleased with the results.
Optimal planting for rice is before May 1, and 75 percent of the state’s crop made it in by that date. The remainder was late because of excessive rains during the first few weeks of May.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi’s small cotton crop was looking good by late August, but with prices below break-even levels, producers will hold their breath until harvests are in.
John Michael Riley, Extension agricultural economist, said cotton harvest cash prices in Mississippi in mid-August were about 53-55 cents a pound. MSU crop budget estimators indicate the “average Mississippi producer” needs prices above 62 cents a pound to be in the black in 2009.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Catfish pond acreage in Mississippi continues to decline, with the high cost of production and poor prices partly to blame.
Jim Steeby, aquaculture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the entire U.S. catfish industry is downsizing. As of late July, Mississippi had 70,000 acres of catfish ponds, down from the high of 113,000 acres the state had in 2001.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Three weeks of cool, rainy weather in July were just what the state’s soybeans needed, breathing new life into the struggling crop.
Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said weather extremes have affected the crop. Cold, wet spring weather delayed a lot of planting. Most of June was hot and dry and most of July was wet and cooler.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low prices and below-average landings are making a poor season for shrimpers, but consumers are getting a great deal on high-quality Gulf shrimp.
Dave Burrage, professor of marine resources with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Mississippi’s shrimp season opened late and in two phases. Normally the season opens in early June, and part did open June 7, but the rest did not open until June 25.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi’s 2.1 million acres in forage production have struggled from one extreme to the other, and farmers are hoping for a little help from Mother Nature to produce an adequate 2009 crop.
Rocky Lemus, forage specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said pastures and hay fields are just passing the midway point in the growing season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s 2009 cotton is shaping up to be more a story of how the mighty have fallen than another chapter in the reign of King Cotton.
A poor outlook on market prices and continued high input costs led many producers to move away from cotton, and wet weather during the April and May planting window kept even more acres out of cotton production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Mississippi has 270,000 acres of cotton in 2009, the lowest on record. For comparison, Mississippi had 1.2 million acres of cotton in 2006.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fickle weather may have altered the production schedule for watermelons this year, but Mississippi growers will have plenty of the popular red fruit available for summertime eating.
“Growers started pulling melons last week and will be in full swing as the marketing season begins,” said George County agent Mike Steede of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “The melons look good and have filled out well.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s fruit growers are harvesting about twice as many blueberries as they did last year, thanks largely to the lack of significant spring freezes.
John Braswell, Mississippi State University horticulture specialist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, said growers in south Mississippi have just passed the peak of the 2009 harvest season.