News Filed Under Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- How can Mississippi cotton growers harvest a record 900 pound average and not be enthusiastic about the crop?
1997 was the first year since 1983 that Mississippi cotton growers planted less than 1 million acres, and only the third time since record keeping began in 1866. Growers had governmental incentive to reduce acres in 1983 due to abundant supplies. In 1997, the incentives not to plant cotton came from market prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's total value of production posted an new record of $4.9 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 1996. Casual observers might think a 3 percent change means little happened in Mississippi's 1997 farm economy.
"Several row crops had significant changes in their total value this year, but that was largely because of planted acreage changes," said Dr. John Robinson, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Like a real roller coaster ride, 1997 left some farmers saying, "Let's go again," and others saying, "No way."
Cold, wet conditions at planting time had row-crop growers struggling to plant fields. As the conditions persisted, the young plants struggled to mature.
"Early season conditions resulted in about 30,000 acres of cotton being destroyed -- mainly in Northeast Mississippi," said Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University.
Growers planted much of the state's cotton later than ideal.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Hernando Desoto discovered pecans' wonderful taste in 1541 in what became Mississippi, and Jean Penicaut wrote about them in Natchez in 1704.
The most widely planted variety, the Stuart, originated here, as did Desirable, Success and Schley. Despite criticism over irregular crops and insect problems, the pecan is a survivor and worthy of a place in the landscape as a shade tree.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Delta pecan growers have more reason to celebrate than they have had in recent years as the state prepares for its largest harvest since the 1994 ice storm.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said the state has about a dozen commercial orchards, primarily in the Delta. This year's crop will be the largest Delta crop since the February '94 ice storm.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pumpkin producers have battled the weather, bugs and disease this season but still expect to harvest a decent crop this fall.
Pumpkins grow best in dry and warm (but not hot) conditions, said Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University.
"Weather conditions this year were not exceptionally good or bad, so the crop that resulted is only average," Nagel said.
A typical crop produces about 1,000 basketball-size pumpkins per acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather delayed planting the 1997 sweetpotato crop by three-weeks, making growers scramble now to get it out of the ground as quickly as possible.
Mississippi has 8,200 acres planted in sweetpotatoes this year, an increase of 400 acres more than last year. Harvest began Sept. 15 and is about 35 percent complete. The state usually sells 1.5 million 40-pound boxes of sweetpotatoes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An improved plow that reduces soil surface disturbance is causing a stir in farming circles.
Dr. Gordon Tupper, an agricultural engineer at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, recently redesigned the low-till parabolic subsoiler he invented in 1972. Shaped like a deep-curved U, this parabolic subsoiler can increase cotton profits by nearly $33 an acre.
"Properly using this subsoiler on just a portion of the state's 1 million acres of cotton has the potential to increase profits by several million dollars a year," Tupper said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains provided some relief to Mississippi's dry conditions, but cattle producers were the main benefactors. Row crops will reap minimal profit or damage from the water.
Rankin County agricultural agent Houston Therrell said cattlemen and wildlife enthusiasts were the big winners.
"Pastures were extremely short. Most had stopped growing a month before the rains arrived," Therrell said. "These rains will help the winter grasses come along as well as help pastures gain some grass before the first frost."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some Mississippi soybean growers are looking at excellent yields; others, who fell victim to unseasonably cool, wet conditions at planting time, never had a chance.
Mack Young, Quitman County agricultural agent, said this year's crop is divided into early, middle and late crop beans.
"Yields on the earliest planted beans are looking really good. With at least half the Group IV's harvested, yields are running from the mid-30s to the 60-bushel-per-acre range," Young said.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After a season of mostly favorable weather conditions, rice growers are seeing the first signs of a promising crop as harvest begins.
"Rice looks good so far and the yields seem promising, but with only about 10 percent harvested, it's too early to make solid predictions," said Dwayne Wheeler, Tunica County area rice extension agent.
Cool temperatures hurt stands early in the spring during planting time, but weather conditions were more favorable throughout the growing period, particularly while rice was heading.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton farmers and their nemesis, the boll weevil, begin their traditional fall routines with 1998 on their minds.
The verdict is still out on 1997's crop which battled all season to overcome late plantings in cool, wet conditions.
Dr. Blake Layton, extension cotton entomologist at Mississippi State University, described the state's crop as "the most erratic crop we've ever seen." Still, he said Mississippi growers should harvest a better-than-average crop.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The harvest season is approaching for Mississippi's "big three" row crops, and it's been a difficult year for some producers.
"There's a lot of variation in this year's soybean crop," said extension soybean specialist Alan Blaine. "Depending on who you talk to, it's either one of the best ever or one of the worst. On average, the 1997 soybean crop in Mississippi is a good one."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's estimate for the state's soybean crop is about 55 million bushels, up from more than 54 million harvested last year.
By Rhonda Whitmire
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn growers anticipate respectable yields, but they are harvesting about 140,000 fewer acres than in 1996.
"The prices and expectations at planting time were down from 1996," said Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist. "Growers planted corn on 490,000 acres in Mississippi this year, compared to 630,000 acres in 1996."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The product is often trampled and always underfoot, but that's because the turfgrass industry is alive and thriving in the state.
With its 2.5 million acres of turfgrass, the industry has a more than $728 million impact on Mississippi's economy. Annually, the industry's gross sales reach about $375 million.
The turfgrass industry employs almost 6,000 full-time and nearly 14,000 part-time workers. Maintenance of the turfgrass costs more than $353 million in materials and labor.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers have been battling boll weevils for almost 100 years, but the real war is just beginning.
Cotton growers in Mississippi's hill section and south Delta voted last January to join other Southeastern states in an intensive boll weevil eradication program. The effort in the hill section begins the first week of August with aerial spraying of all cotton fields to prevent weevils from entering diapause, the stage of overwinter preparation. South Delta efforts begin in the fall of 1998.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State blueberry farmers raised a record- breaking crop this year, but persistent rains have limited the amount sold as fresh fruit.
Dr. John Braswell, Mississippi State University extension horticulturist, estimated state growers will harvest 5.3 million pounds of blueberries this year. This tops 1995's record 4.6 million pounds. In 1996, a freeze cut the state's harvest to less than 800,000 pounds.
"We've had an excellent crop this year, but because of rains, much of it will be sold as frozen berries rather than fresh," Braswell said.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Nationally, wheat growers are harvesting a strong crop, but Mississippi rains prevented state growers from producing a repeat of last year's record high.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said Mississippi's total production is about 1/3 less than what was produced in 1996.
Last year, Mississippi produced an average of 48 bushels per acre on about 230,000 acres. This year, production dropped substantially to about 39 bushels per acre on 200,000 acres throughout Mississippi.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Most Mississippians think spring is the best time for gardening. But if you haven't tried a fall garden, consider putting one in now because it can be the best garden you have.
Fall-grown produce is better because it ripens in a cooler, less stressful time of the season. It suffers less from sunburn or sunscald, and fall has fewer insects and diseases.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather has been a constant challenge for Mississippi's cotton growers.
Rain delayed most of the crop's planting time two to three weeks. Next, continued rains and cool weather slowed initial growth. Fields in Northeast Mississippi have suffered the most.
"We're looking at the good, the bad and the being destroyed," said Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University. "Most poorly drained fields have drowned out. Whenever farmers can get in those fields, they will likely replant in soybeans, if possible."