News Filed Under Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains across Mississippi the last week of June arrived just in time for many fields, pastures and landscapes desperately needing relief from drought-like conditions.
Dr. Charles Wax, professor and head of geosciences at Mississippi State University, said the state had endured four months with below-average rainfall, but the rains at the end of June helped put Mississippi above average for the month.
"The showers were very scattered, but most places got at least 2 inches," Wax said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crop insurance programs are too complex for a quick fix, and two Mississippi State University agricultural economists want to make sure policymakers understand that even minor changes can have major ramifications on growers and government costs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi soybean growers, much like other 1999 row crop producers, need a bumper crop to compensate for the depressed market prices.
"When the market is this low and the prospects are this bleak, growers always want to produce record yields to lower their break-even costs," said Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The benefits of rotating corn with other crops continue to attract growers, despite the struggles with low prices and challenges from Mother Nature.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said last year's difficult season and current low market prices resulted in corn acreage falling from 550,000 acres to 320,000 this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton planting is progressing slower and more challenging than some growers would like, especially in areas that have required replanting.
"Flash flooding, heavy rains and hail are causing more replanting decisions than normal for Mississippi growers, and those who planted early have suffered the most," said Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Overall, cotton planting is progressing a little slower than we would like."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers across Mississippi are moving some of their acres to cotton or soybeans based on poor prices and a bad year for corn in 1998.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said last year's problems with aflatoxin have been the most significant factor keeping corn acreage low this year.
"Many growers are uncomfortable dealing with the risk of aflatoxin because it develops based primarily on environmental conditions over which the grower has little control," Larson said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most cotton growers haven't planted the first seed, but they are already making decisions for managing insects.
Continued poor market prices, a mild winter and location in the state are among the issues growers are considering as they make choices between transgenic cotton that is resistant to budworms and nontransgenic seeds. Timely plantings for an early maturing crop continues to be another part of the insect risk management strategy.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Planting intentions announced Wednesday show Mississippi farmers reacting to low prices across the board by planting more cotton than last year.
Cotton saw the biggest gain in acreage, with 1.1 million acres projected for 1999 in Mississippi. Rice acreage also should be up, but not as high as originally intended. Both corn and soybeans acreage intentions are down for the year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wheat growers anticipate the final hurdles for this season's crop as they hope for respectable market prices at harvest time in early summer.
Dr. Erick Larson, agronomist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said many wheat growers took advantage of favorable planting conditions last fall despite the poor market forecast.
Wheat prices in October were around $2.40 per bushel, but March prices have rebounded slightly into the $2.50 range.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homeowners sprucing up their lawns for spring should be careful using fertilizers as two of the most common types may harm area water quality if managed poorly.
Dr. Larry Oldham, soil fertility specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said movement of nitrogen and phosphorus from soils to water supplies raises water quality concerns.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An ongoing case of rice insurance policies changing after they were purchased has demonstrated why farmers should be more careful than ever in protecting themselves from crop loss.
American Agrisurance Co. recently reduced a special offer on Crop Revenue Coverage after the deadline had passed to buy insurance for spring planted crops. Farmers who had bought this insurance package, known as CRC-Plus, now had much less coverage than they were promised, and with the purchasing deadline expired, have no way to increase the coverage.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growing crawfish with rice has become a common way to produce this popular shellfish, but the practice has been more successful in Louisiana than it has in Mississippi.
In 1997, Louisiana landed almost 23 million pounds of crawfish worth nearly $13 million. The state produced another 47 million pounds through aquaculture at a value of nearly $28 million. Much of this crawfish is consumed in the state, and very little leaves the South.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A milder-than-usual winter may be nice for people, but it can mean trouble for fruit trees by causing them to bloom out of season.
Recent cold weather has not hurt this year's fruit production, even though warm weather has prompted some plants to bud. Generally, buds are not damaged until temperatures dip below 28 degrees for four or more hours.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing what the weather will be like is about the only variable keeping Mississippi State University researchers from being able to predict some cotton and soybean yields.
Dr. Harry Hodges, crop physiology and production specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said computer programs have been developed to simulate crop growth. The goal is to know how plants will respond to environmental variables.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new rice variety soon to be in commercial production is giving indications it may be a strong contender for the state's most popular variety.
Priscilla was released in 1997 by Dr. Dwight Kanter, agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The new rice variety started in the early 1980s by an Arkansas researcher as a cross between three existing varieties.
"In early tests, Priscilla was one of the highest yielding semi-dwarfs that we observed," Kanter said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crop insurance is on sale for farmers in Mississippi at nearly a 30 percent discount, but growers have to act quickly to take advantage of this reduction.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $400 million in disaster relief to subsidize buy-up crop insurance premiums. Buy-up insurance provides the highest levels of coverage at an increased cost to farmers. The relief money reduces coverage cost, but must be bought by Feb. 28. Other emergency financial assistance is available for areas that had multiple year losses or single year disasters.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Aflatoxin takes its toll on Mississippi corn production, but two scientists at Mississippi State University have recently released a weapon to fight the fungus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Paul Williams and plant pathologist Gary L. Windham developed the germplasm Mp715 that was released by the USDA-ARS and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers chose to plant fewer acres in 1998 knowing the world market offered little promise. The hot, dry summer prevented a repeat of 1997's record yields, but growers still managed to harvest near the five-year average.
Dr. John Robinson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, predicted the 1998 farm-gate value of Mississippi's cotton will be about $541 million, down 16 percent from the previous year. Cotton felt a triple whammy from reduced acres, smaller yields and lower prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A program aimed at improving soybean yields in Mississippi helped farmers produce 1998 soybean yields that, despite the drought, averaged 45 bushels an acre, 20 more than the state average.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Numerous Mississippi farmers are planting vegetation buffer strips between crop land and waterways to improve water quality and fight erosion.
Dr. Larry Oldham, soil specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said buffer strips are narrow strips of grass or trees between crop land and surface waters that slow the water coming off crop land.