News Filed Under Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers with a sense of adventure have made their decisions, paid the price and now are preparing for the first plunge on the agricultural roller-coaster ride of 2000.
Poor market prices and drought challenges in recent growing seasons are making farmers think more than twice as they make planting decisions.
"This is not going to be a good year to make a lot of changes in a farming plan. Growers need to rely on the basics," said Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybeans have been called a miniature miracle because of their versatility.
Soybeans and soy derivatives are being used in a variety of places - coffee creamers, salad and cooking oils, diesel fuels, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals, linoleum backings, vinyl plastics, shampoos, chocolate and candy coatings, mayonnaise, cosmetics and bakery products. There are also soy foods like miso, soymilk, soy sauce, tofu and tempeh.
This is great news for Mississippi's soybean producers.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton may be king in the Mississippi Delta, but research at Mississippi State University is helping the white gold grow in hilly sections of the state as well.
Cotton breeding and development is conducted by Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station breeders Dr. Ted Wallace and Dr. Roy Creech in Starkville, and Dr. John Creech at the MSU's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- U.S. Highway 82, the internet and telephone wires connect a Mississippi State University father-and-son research team who work on opposite sides of Mississippi.
Both Dr. Roy Creech and his son, Dr. John Creech, are looking for ways to improve Mississippi's leading row crop, cotton. One has a lab at MSU in Starkville and the other conducts research at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton took a beating both in prices and yield this year, but with significantly more acreage than last year, the final numbers look a lot like 1998.
Mississippi cotton acres again broke the million mark, rising from 760,000 in 1998 to 1.18 million in 1999. Yield, however, averaged just 708 pounds an acre, a drop from 737 pounds per acre in 1998. The biggest hit came from prices, which were down 10 to 15 cents from last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After enduring some of the lowest prices for their crops in recent years, Mississippi farmers are looking more to the experts for management advice for the 2000 crop as they tighten their budgets another notch.
County agricultural agents with Mississippi State University's Extension Service are advising farmers on management decisions ranging from land and variety selections to labor and pricing decisions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low yields and difficult harvest conditions have most Southeast peanut growers ready to put 1999 behind them.
Mississippi and other peanut-producing states suffered a bad year as the heat and drought dropped peanut yields and grade well below state averages. Mississippi quota peanuts bring prices close to Alabama prices, which last year were about $550 a ton.
Steve Cummings, Yalobusha County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said his part of the state harvested only about 2,000 pounds per acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Add pine trees to the list of Mississippi agricultural products hurt by drought conditions that triggered increased bark beetle attacks on the state's second most valuable crop.
Dr. Glenn Hughes, area forestry specialist in Ellisville with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the potential damage statewide to forest landowners' and homeowners' trees is significant. A mild winter could increase the threat in 2000.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite drought and low expectations, state growers are expecting a good pecan crop this year.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, pecan specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, estimated the state will have 3.5 million to 4 million pounds of pecans. Mississippi produced less than 1 million pounds last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The drought that began the middle of July has taken a harsh toll on Mississippi's cotton crop, but October would be the worst time for that drought to end.
In September, growers began harvesting their first fields, typically among the lowest yielding acres in a year's crop. Rains during harvest will further reduce the fiber quality.
John Coccaro, Sharkey County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the first 25 percent of the crop were feast and famine fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State growers had every reason in mid-summer to expect one of the largest soybean yields ever, but then saw that chance stolen by drought.
Dr. Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the lack of rain since mid-July ruined yields of late-planted soybeans, while doing less damage to yields of early planted, early-maturing varieties.
"We had the potential to have the best crop we've ever had," Blaine said. "A lot of the crop was one rain away from making an excellent yield."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi corn stayed one step ahead of the drought and rewarded farmers with what promises to be the state's highest per acre yield.
Farmers are expecting yields averaging 115 bushels an acre, topping the previous record of 107 bushels. As of the second week of September, corn was ahead of schedule with 85 percent harvested.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said early planting was key to the success of this year's crop.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Extremely high temperatures and dry conditions combined to deliver the knockout blow to Mississippi's 1999 commercial pumpkin crop.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University Extension Service, said after growers planted pumpkins from late June through July, rain almost never fell in the North Mississippi fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Depressed row crop prices prompted growers to plant more rice in 1999, but while growing conditions cooperated, the market did not.
Dwayne Wheeler, area agricultural agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service in Tunica County, said the bleak soybean market was a big factor in growers planting more rice. However, since planting time, rice prices taken a turn for the worse and are running about 30 to 40 percent behind last year's figures.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As most of the nation focuses on the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern states' drought, Mississippi farmers are struggling through a late-season drought of their own.
The first summer months looked promising to many Mississippi growers, but some crops have weakened due to a sudden lack of moisture in the area.
Dr. Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said soybean production seems to be hardest hit by the changing weather.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "Would you like soybeans with that order?"
Asians have long appreciated the taste and benefits of soybean protein in their diets, but most Americans have not rushed to purchase soy products. One Mississippi State University researcher has increased Western acceptance of this healthful food by blending soybean protein with yogurt.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers are hoping Mississippi children are experiencing the last chances to see boll weevils in their natural habitat as eradication efforts begin in the North Delta.
Growers across the nation's Southeast have been chipping away at boll weevil strongholds since the early '80s. Eradication efforts that began in Virginia and the Carolinas have continued successfully across Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and into Tennessee and Mississippi. Separate efforts are underway in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two Mississippi State University researchers showed that combining remote sensing and variable rates of fertilizer application helps cotton production on different types of soils.
Using a test plot located in the North Delta, Dr. Jac Varco and MSU research assistant John Thompson studied cotton's performance under different conditions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton appears to be headed for an above average crop in 1999 as insect pressures are low and the weather is favorable for cotton production.
Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the overall crop looked very good by mid-July.
"At this point, the crop has good moisture, vegetative growth, fruit set and light insect pressure," McCarty said. "With still months before harvest when anything can happen, the potential of this year's cotton is definitely above average."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Watermelons, blueberries and peaches are finding their way to Mississippi tables despite the weather conditions Mother Nature throws at them.
A mild winter that deprived peaches of their necessary chill hours, a dry spell this summer and recent rains during harvest have not stopped growers from producing decent yields. The market is providing reduced prices for watermelons, average prices for peaches and better-than-average prices for blueberries.