News Filed Under Crops
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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- To the untrained eye, Mississippi simply experienced a colorful spring. To fruit and pecan growers, it was like a breath of fresh air.
A March freeze in 1996 wiped out the state's peach and blueberry crops. Pecan trees still are not 100 percent recovered from the 1994 ice storm. But this year, the forecast is much improved.
Dr. Freddie Raspberry, extension horticulture specialist at Mississippi State University, said the undependable nature of Mississippi's fruit crops has driven many growers away from the business.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A projected soybean increase of 200,000 acres is pushing Mississippi's planted acreage up for 1997, despite drops in cotton and corn.
Mississippi is expected to plant 3.9 million acres in the state's top four crops -- soybeans, cotton, corn and rice -- compared to 3.76 million acres last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Planting Intentions Report, released March 31, revealed few surprises. Rice was the only other row crop expected to increase acreage in 1997, jumping 19 percent to 250,000 acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Frequent rains are dampening Mississippi farmers' chances for a repeat of last year's profitable wheat crop.
Record yields and prices in 1996 inspired Mississippi wheat growers to increase planted acreage about 6 percent last fall. Mississippi growers averaged 49 bushels per acre on 230,000 harvested acres last year. Many 1996 farmers priced their crop near the $6 level, after wheat briefly reached the historic $7 per bushel mark.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Peaches and plums grow well in Mississippi and can be an asset to the home garden if placed correctly. Gardeners must pay close attention to the basics of site selection, varieties, weed control, irrigation and pest management to produce high quality fruit.
Good soil drainage is imperative since wet feet spell doom. Soils with standing water or ones that remain saturated for even a day or two following a heavy rain are unsuitable for fruit trees.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While some scientific breakthroughs never seem to touch everyday lives, genetic engineering affects many Mississippians on a daily basis.
Two Mississippi State University extension agronomists said bioengineered crops are riding a wave of popularity. In five years, nearly all the corn planted in Mississippi will have bioengineered traits. Because of limited seed supplies, about 5 to 10 percent of the state's soybeans are genetically modified now, but that number is growing quickly.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers with Internet access have a valuable resource to help them as they choose what varieties to plant in their fields.
Dr. Alan Blaine, Mississippi State University extension agronomist, said 1997 soybean variety trial information is now posted on the Internet. Information is available on yield, maturity dates, disease reactions, lodging scores and long-term yield averages.
Results of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station soybean variety trials for 1994-1996 are available at http://www.ext.msstate.edu/soyvar.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pecan growers are harvesting their best crop in three years this fall, but the yield is still only a fraction of what the state can produce.
With 50 percent of the harvest complete, growers expect to harvest 2.5 million pounds from Mississippi's 12,000 to 14,000 acres of pecan orchards.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, Mississippi State University's extension horticulturist, said that is well more than double last year's yield of 1 million pounds, but well below the average of 5 million to 8 million pounds of pecans a year.