News Filed Under Crops
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The tears rolled down my cheeks, and my lips felt singed and blistered as I ate what I thought was the most wonderful chicken in existence. I may have muttered something like "it hurt so good." This happened at a beach side restaurant in Negril, Jamaica. The street vendor in the town of Gosier on the French Island of Guadeloupe, however, equaled the experience with his own scorching version.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two years of record wheat yields and low prices on all crops should have prompted Mississippi growers to increase their wheat acreage, but the weather during planting season last fall had the final say.
"Wheat acreage is down about 18 percent compared to the previous year," said Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "In addition to the recent record yields, wheat is appealing because it produces income early in the season when growers could really use it."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most crop prices have been declining all year, causing Mississippi farmers to make tough decisions on which crops to plant.
"Major commodities have been in a free fall since Jan. 1," said Charlie Forrest, Extension agricultural economist with Mississippi State University. "When you look at futures charts, most of our crops are showing steep, sustained declines. Prices are below the cost of production, causing many decisions about planting to be made based on farm programs."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The absence of positive incentives is influencing Mississippi growers to adjust planting intentions to the crops with the fewest strikes against them: cotton and sorghum.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's prospective plantings report released March 30 predicts Mississippi farmers will plant 15 percent more cotton and 11 percent more sorghum than last year. The only other crop showing any increase in acreage is rice, which is expected to increase about 2 percent. The biggest loss will be for soybeans, down 12 percent from 1.7 million acres to 1.5 million.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rising fertilizer costs brought on by natural gas price increases are no longer a future worry but a present problem for Mississippi farmers.
Natural gas prices rose from $2.30 per million British thermal units to almost $10 between January and December 2000. Much of that increase came in the last couple months of the year. But why do high gas bills affect farmers more than workers in other industries?
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What goes into farmland as additives impacts the The Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is the amount of a particular pollutant that can be released safely to surface water per day. TMDLs are set by the state Department of Environmental Quality, and are designed to ensure that state waters continue to meet quality standards.
MISSISSIPPI STATE Most of Mississippi's weather in 2000 did more harm than good for the state's farmers -- until December.
After four relatively mild winters, entomologists predict significant insect mortality from the cold. The state climatologist reported December temperatures were among the coldest in reported history.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing that corn will grow in Mississippi is one matter, but deciding which kind will grow best on a particular farm puts significant amounts of money on the line and calls for in-depth research.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hot and dry conditions made it tough for Mississippi cotton farmers in 2000 even though they managed to increase cotton acreage.
Mississippi's cotton's estimated value in 2000 was $518 million, which was up from $441 million in 1999. This makes cotton the state's No. 3 crop. Mississippi farmers planted 1.36 million acres of cotton in 2000, and harvested 1.28 million acres. Yields averaged 649 pounds per acre, compared to 708 pounds per acre in 1999.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After a summer of extreme heat and dry conditions, Mississippi cotton farmers now battle low yields, low quality and low prices.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said dry weather helped mature cotton faster, which is why more than 90 percent of harvest was complete in Mississippi by the end of October. Typically, harvest is 84 percent complete by this time. Because cotton matured early, yields and quality suffered.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The damaging effects of this year's drought may not be confined to the 2000 pecan crop as the stressed trees also may lack the energy to produce big yields next year.
Like other trees in the state, some pecans went dormant early to protect themselves from a fate worse than just losing leaves.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick on growers of Mississippi's non-irrigated pumpkins, and the few treats available after the hot, dry summer will be found in patches with access to water.
David Nagel, vegetable specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said growers irrigate less than 100 acres of Mississippi's 480 commercial pumpkin acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers are finding that heat didn't hurt this year's rice crop, as yields are looking good near the end of harvest.
A wet spring meant a late rice planting, so harvest is a little behind schedule, but about 75 to 80 percent of the state's acreage was out of the field by early October. Last year Mississippi harvested 323,000 acres of rice.
Joe Street, Extension rice specialist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said most producers are satisfied with yields expected to average 5,800 pounds an acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi blueberries proved this year that a drought isn't a bad thing if you have irrigation.
The state had a good blueberry crop this year with about 4 million pounds sold. John Braswell, Extension horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's South Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Poplarville, said about 80 percent of the state's 1,600 acres are located in the drought-stricken southeast part of the state. The drought actually was a benefit at harvest.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi sweetpotato farmers can expect variable crops this year, depending on the amount of rainfall each of their fields received.
"Most farmers can expect an average crop, but it will vary because some fields received more rain than others. There will probably not be as many bigger potatoes because of the drought. Not only do dry conditions stunt their growth, but it allows timely harvest that prevents oversizing," said Paul Thompson, Extension horticulture specialist for Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It's too late to do anything for this year's crops, but farmers hurt by two years of drought should begin to act now to reduce their susceptibility to future drought.
Short of installing irrigation systems, there are options that can give crops a little relief during blistering, dry summers. These include early planting, the use of early maturing varieties and a departure from clean tillage systems.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi may experience long-term plant loss and severe soil moisture depletion if plentiful rains do not come in time to heal the drought damage.
"Parts of Mississippi are experiencing the worst drought since 1954 and 1980. The Delta, northeast Mississippi and some parts south of Jackson have suffered the most from the lack of rainfall," said Charles Wax, head of geosciences at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The damage isn't nearly as dramatic as that caused by an earthquake, but Mississippi soils have the capacity to harm foundations when they get dry.
Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said shifting ground can crack foundations. This damage often shows up as cracks or separation around doors and windows or brick veneer, or as cracks in the cement slab of the carport or garage. This damage is especially evident during droughts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A dry growing season means Mississippi cotton matured a lot faster than normal, but with this early maturing came reduced yields.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said cotton is being harvested three weeks earlier than normal this year.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rice production is big business in Mississippi, and September has been set aside nationally to recognize this important food staple.
Last year, Mississippi farmers produced more than 18 million pounds of rice on 260,000 acres. The crop's value reached nearly $100 million.
Bolivar County is one of the state's largest rice producing counties. Each year Delta Rice Promotions holds a rice-tasting luncheon to celebrate September as National Rice Month.