News Filed Under Crops
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."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Experienced farmers know the importance of lime, but this is the first year growers could select from two grades depending on their price range and success expectations.
Larry Oldham, extension soils specialist at Mississippi State University, said acid soils limit production of every crop in Mississippi. These soils require lime to neutralize the soil acidity for maximum economic productions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn is battling for decent yields as cool, wet weather hampers growth and triggers common rust disease throughout much of the state.
"Corn is in its critical pollination period which is the most sensitive time for any stresses," said Dr. Erick Larson, extension corn specialist at Mississippi State University. "The weather conditions since Memorial weekend have caused an unusually heavy outbreak of common rust in corn fields."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cool, rainy days have delayed cotton growth, but not boll weevils. Cotton's No. 1 enemy is emerging from overwintering and searching for cotton squares.
"Even though boll weevil numbers are high, I'm not as concerned about them as I am about the crop as a whole," said Mike Williams, extension entomologist at Mississippi State University. "The insects don't even want the cotton at this point."
Spring conditions have delayed the cotton's growth by at least two weeks in most areas of the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Erosion is more than an unsightly nuisance because if left unattended, it can wash away vast amounts of soil.
Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said erosion is simply soil being moved by water or wind. Some degree of erosion occurs nearly everywhere.
"Anytime you scratch up the surface of the soil, you're going to have the potential for erosion if you don't put some type of cover over it," Oldham said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One gardener's trash can become his treasure in a matter of weeks.
The piles of weeds, clippings and leaves often discarded can instead be naturally recycled. A well-tended compost pile quickly changes mounds of organic matter into rich soil additives.
Dr. David Nagel, Mississippi State University extension horticulturist, said compost is the result of microorganisms processing organic waste.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many Mississippi farmers are witnessing too much of a good thing.
Moisture is an important ingredient in establishing a new crop, but rains in the last weeks of May have left many crops struggling to develop uniform stands.
Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said most fields need drier conditions and warmer weather.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Several Mississippi farmers have made smart management changes and increased their average yields by more than 14 bushels an acre.
At $7 a bushel, that increases income by almost $100 an acre. If half of the state's 2 million soybean acres saw this increase, soybean income would rise about $100 million annually.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi strawberry acres are few, but even an average yield provides the state with at least a $250,000 crop.
Strawberry season closed near the end of May in the southern part of the state, but cool temperatures kept the season open into early June farther north. South Mississippi has most of the state's 25 to 35 acres of strawberry farms.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A common sight around the state is a piece of farm equipment or an old out-building barely visible under a covering of kudzu.
Because it spreads rapidly, people fight an uphill battle to control the vine. But new studies have found that goats, with their tendency to eat anything green, may help destroy this weed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Last winter's mild temperatures not only were easy on Mississippi people, but the state's insects as well.
The lack of a sustained deep freeze, together with the warm, relatively dry spring has resulted in favorable breeding and growing conditions for many insect pests.
Dr. James Jarratt, Mississippi State University extension entomologist, said typical Mississippi winters don't do widespread harm to insect populations.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi growers have most of their rice planted, but cold, wet conditions are hindering plants' development.
Dr. Joe Street, extension rice specialist in Stoneville, said farmers are beginning to get concerned.
Most Mississippi rice growers prefer to plant the Lemont variety, which needs to be planted by mid-May," Street said. "Later plantings could be adversely affected by cool fall weather and rains that could hamper harvest."
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers remain optimistic about the state's 1997 crop despite cool, rainy weather conditions that have been less than ideal for planting.
Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University, said rain several weeks ago concerned growers, but after it stopped the ground dried so quickly that some farmers planted their first soybeans in dry soil.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homegrown tomatoes are the envy of most Mississippians, but fortunately, growing these summer delicacies is not as difficult as some may think.
Dr. Rick Snyder, extension vegetable specialist in Crystal Springs, said home gardeners can produce fine tomatoes in their own plots. It just requires a little know-how and attention to details.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton, once king in Mississippi, is losing ground to other crops as production costs and market prices prompt some growers to venture away from their historical favorite.
Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University, said switching from cotton can be a difficult move.
"If you already have the cotton equipment and farm labor costs, no other crop will pay the bills like cotton," McCarty said.
Growers typically plant cotton on the best land, which also rents for higher prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Corn is growing this year on fewer Mississippi acres than last year, but the crop appears to be off to a good start despite being planted slightly behind schedule.
Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist, said state farmers planted 630,000 acres of corn in 1996 and expect to plant about 550,000 acres this year. Most corn planting should be complete by April 20.