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Corn Prices Rise as Acreage Drops
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As estimated national corn acreage and yields continue to drop, Mississippi growers have a chance to lock in a good price for their crop. The deciding factor for 1995 corn yields and prices to growers will be the weather, which caused the current decline in estimated acreage and yields.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said December corn futures have closed as high as $2.92 per bushel in recent weeks.
"Prices are up compared to this time last year, when we were in the midst of a record corn crop and the accompanying low prices," Jones said. "This year prices are up because of early-season rains that delayed planting in the Midwest."
Compared with 1994, futures prices are about 12 cents higher per bushel, while Mississippi cash prices are about 30 cents higher per bushel.
Recent USDA supply and demand reports indicate a 2 million acre drop in estimated planted national corn acreage. Estimated national yields are expected to be down 6 bushels per acre.
Mississippi's corn acreage for 1995 is estimated at 320,000 acres, a 3 percent drop from last year.
Weather in the Midwest kept farmers from planting on time, and will affect pollination and harvesting.
"Total U.S. production predicted for this year has dropped from 8.6 billion bushels to 7.9 billion bushels," Jones said. "But even though corn usage and exports are expected to be down, demand is still expected to exceed corn supply this year."
Jones recommended farmers try forward pricing up to half their crop, based on its quality, progress and historical yields in their fields.
Most of Mississippi's corn crop is in the critical reproductive growth stages of silking and tasseling. This year's crop yields will depend on cooperative weather in the next few weeks.
"Rainfall, stored soil moisture and temperatures in the next few weeks will determine overall grain yield -- how well the ears fill out," said Dr. Erick Larson, extension corn specialist at MSU. "The crop is sensitive to stress from too much heat and not enough rainfall."
Recent rainfall brought some relief to several dry spots scattered around the state.
In Noxubee County, Mississippi's top corn producing county, the corn pollinated well, despite high temperatures.
"The crop looks good, but growers really need a good rainfall to help fill out the ears with kernels," said Dr. Dennis Reginelli, Noxubee County agent. "In some areas of the county, the crop has been without rainfall for more than three weeks."
Further west, in Yazoo County, adequate rainfall has helped fill out the corn, and the crop is in good condition.
Corn insect pressure is very light throughout the state.