News Filed Under Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Late freezes and a predicted light pecan crop are dampening prospects for Mississippi's fruit and nut growers, but growers haven't given up on the year.
Freddie Rasberry, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said last year had the potential of being the state's best pecan year since the 1994 ice storm caused extensive damage to Delta orchards. Because pecans ordinarily are alternate bearing fruit, bumper crops are often followed the next year by much smaller harvests.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Handing over a portion of profits may seem like bad business, but Mississippi farmers use checkoff programs to promote success in the future.
Checkoff programs are a form of self-tax that require producers by law to set aside a certain portion from each unit sold. This money is collected by the governing board and distributed for industry research and promotion.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What blueberries lack in size they make up for in their economic impact in Mississippi's economy.
Jerry Hutto, a blueberry grower in Waynesboro, said he believes there is more money in blueberries per acre than in any other crop. He estimated that there are 2,000 acres of commercial blueberries in Mississippi.
"In a good year, growers may average 7,000 to 8,000 pounds per acre. This year, we may produce 3,000 to 5,000 because of the late freeze," Hutto said. "Two good years in a five-year period will more than offset the bad years."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi rice acreage is following national trends and dropping as prices for the crop being planted do not look better than they did last year.
Some farmers got into the fields to begin planting the second week of April, but rain postponed most state rice planting until the third week. Joe Street, rice specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service and rice researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the crop was about 25 percent planted by Good Friday.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's wheat crop headed into April with a bright outlook, but recent weather sent farmers to the fields looking for freeze and disease damage.
Erick Larson, wheat specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the dry winter was favorable to the state's wheat.
"Overall, the wheat crop has been in real good shape going into the spring," Larson said. "Recent rains caused some water- logged spots and killed some plants."
An early-April freeze damaged some wheat, but only time will tell how much.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many Mississippi fields needed rain, but the early April deluge may have provided more long-term water for the streams and lakes than for farm soils.
Six to 8 inches of rain fell across much of the state the first few days of April, with some reports near 10 inches.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers have looked to the sky, the markets and their pocketbooks to make planting decisions for a year that already promises to be a challenge.
Winter rains brought little relief from last year's late season drought, so farmers had a rare opportunity to begin planting corn earlier than normal this spring. Mississippi farmers planted about 55 percent of their corn with 40 percent emerging by the end of March, compared to the five-year average of 21 percent planted and 4 percent emerged.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horticulture, the green industry, is one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture and includes fresh-cut flowers and foliage, potted flowering and foliage plants, bedding plants, perennials, annuals and bulbs, shrubs, trees, cut Christmas trees, seeds and other propagative materials.
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.