News Filed Under Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Another month closer to closing the books on the 1996 crops and farmers are starting to breathe easier.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released the Sept. 1 crop production forecast which yielded few significant changes from the August report. The similarity in the two reports was a pleasant change from last year, when a late drought and insects sent yield estimates plummeting.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi's corn harvest is yielding both feast and famine conditions as harvests range from 40 to 200 bushels per acre. After a drought-plagued summer, much of the yield differences can be explained by one word -- irrigation.
Dr. Erick Larson, extension agronomist at Mississippi State University, said most dryland (or non-irrigated) corn yields are between 40 and 120 bushels per acre, depending on the luck of summer showers. Yields on irrigated fields are running between 110 and 200 bushels.
STONEVILLE -- September's rice harvest promises to give Mississippi growers something to celebrate -- high yields -- during national rice month.
Dr. Ted Miller, agronomist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said this year's crop will rival the record yields of 1994 when Mississippi averaged 5,900 pounds per acre. Rice harvesting began the middle of August and will finish the last couple of weeks of September.
STARKVILLE -- Cotton farmers can testify to what a difference a year makes. As favorable growing conditions continue, growers prepare for the final hurdle -- harvest.
At this time last year, growers were watching yield potential plunged until the final state harvest was 650,000 bales fewer than the Aug. 1 crop forecast. Tobacco budworms and an excessively hot August condemned the 1995 crop.
STARKVILLE -- Although farmers continue to be at the mercy of unforeseeable conditions, a recent report released on the eve of harvest season is painting an optimistic picture.
The Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service's Aug. 1 crop production forecast is predicting larger state crops in soybeans, hay, and corn and sorghum for grain. With the exception of grain corn, yields per acre are expected to be higher in all major crops including cotton and rice.
By Douglas Wilcox
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Caught between a rock and a hard place might best describe how Mississippi dairy producers are feeling this year. With the skyrocketing price of corn and low beef prices being offered for cull dairy cows, dairymen are facing a choice between paying higher feed prices or retiring and selling off their herds.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said last year's small corn crop is cutting into some dairy producers' profits and possibly forcing others out of business.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's soybean crop is playing out an agricultural version of the good, the bad and the ugly.
"Having gotten off to such a good start, it's disappointing to see what we have now in the state," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When cotton growers look down, they see plants full of potential. When they look up, growers see little hope of much-needed rains arriving in the next several weeks.
"Cotton needs rain soon to help the plants grow and fill out the bolls. Without a rain, we will start seeing boll losses," said John Coccaro, Sharkey County extension agricultural agent.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Supplies of fresh Mississippi-grown watermelons, a traditional July Fourth treat, were lower than normal this year as uncooperative weather early in the growing season pushed harvest dates back.
A late spring freeze caused many of Mississippi's watermelon producers to harvest closer than normal to the Fourth of July with some fields missing the holiday demand altogether.
For the best prices, growers aim for harvest to begin around the middle of June and climaxing before July 4.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Agricultural industries dependent on corn are more than ready for harvest to begin. Unfortunately, they have a long wait ahead of them and yields still are uncertain.
Corn prices are having a dramatic impact on the poultry, catfish, beef, dairy and swine industries.
Mike McAlpin, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said corn prices have doubled since January. He said feed is the primary poultry cost, regardless of the price.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most Mississippi wheat growers are cashing in on near-record wheat yields after pricing most of their crop when the markets were at record highs.
Growers have been harvesting wheat hastily between summer showers. The Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service reported 70 percent of the wheat crop harvested by June 16. Many growers will complete harvesting within a week of that date and some will begin planting soybeans in those fields.
POPLARVILLE -- As harvest proceeds, some blueberry growers are finding a few more survivors than they had expected after an early March freeze sent temperatures plummeting into the teens for several nights.
Mississippi has about 1,700 acres of blueberries, but only about 900 acres -- primarily south of Hattiesburg -- will yield fruit this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most Mississippians have forgotten the bitter cold days of winter as temperatures continue to climb. But bare trees, bushes and vines will long remind fruit growers of the early March freeze that gripped the state.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension fruit and nut specialist at Mississippi State University, said the state's fruit crops suffered major losses from the freeze.
STARKVILLE -- Most farmers welcomed recent rains, but growers along the Mississippi River are experiencing an unbelievable fourth year of late season flooding.
Wayland Hill, hydrologic engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, said flooding along the lower Mississippi is a result of rains much farther north.
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The dry weather that allowed some state farmers to finish early season planting has outworn its welcome, stopping planting and hindering growth in many fields. Soil moisture conditions are short to very short across most of the state, and gusty winds in areas of the Delta have further depleted soil moisture.
"We are dry, and a little dry weather early on doesn't hurt, but it is becoming an extended situation and we need a rain pretty badly," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension agronomist at Mississippi State University.
STARKVILLE -- So far so good. Cotton growers are "cautiously optimistic" that this year will not bring weather and insect traumas reminiscent of 1995.
A cold, boll weevil killing winter, budworm resistant cotton and a decent planting season are some of the positive factors going for this year's crop. But bad memories of 1995's insect battles and hopes for cashing in on corn and soybean's high prices in 1996 are driving many growers away from cotton.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi wheat growers will be among an elite group of farmers who will be able to enjoy record high prices. While the yield prospects are dim for the nation's leading wheat producing states, Mississippi's crop looks promising.
Wheat futures have reached the historic $7 per bushel level -- more than 60 percent higher than year-ago prices. Stocks are among the lowest ever and demand continues to be strong.
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent April showers may bring later May plantings for much of Mississippi's soybean crop. Heavy rains have muddied efforts to get the state's soybean crop in the ground, but sunny days are giving growers hope for a timely-planted crop.
Mississippi's soybean crop planting is about 15 percent complete.
In the southern and northern parts of the state, rainfall was not as widespread, but central Mississippi received heavy, flooding rains.
By Douglas Wilcox
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State farmers are hopeful that last winter's freezing weather helped give crop insect pests the cold shoulder for the 1996 growing season.
Mississippi State University entomologists are expressing "cautious optimism" on whether the low temperatures and prolonged wet winter had any effect on the insects that damage Mississippi crops each year.
Dr. Blake Layton, cotton entomology specialist at MSU, said Mississippi farmers may be in for a pleasant surprise this growing season because of the dipping mercury.
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- This year's growing season is off to a slow start as many different obstacles have kept farmers out of their fields.
Cool, wet weather during March and into early April has muddied fields and kept soil temperatures low. Growers in counties across the state are watching the weather and waiting for fields to dry.