Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on July 2, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
June Rains Dampen Crops, Lift Spirits
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains across Mississippi the last week of June arrived just in time for many fields, pastures and landscapes desperately needing relief from drought-like conditions.
Dr. Charles Wax, professor and head of geosciences at Mississippi State University, said the state had endured four months with below-average rainfall, but the rains at the end of June helped put Mississippi above average for the month.
"The showers were very scattered, but most places got at least 2 inches," Wax said.
Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with MSU's Extension Service, said reports have ranged from just over 1 inch up to 7 inches.
"Some fields didn't get as much rain as they needed, but in general, it was a timely boost for the crop. Cotton was right on the edge of stressing," McCarty said. "The rain and cloudy days may have stimulated more leaf growth than needed."
Dr. Erick Larson, Extension corn specialist, said corn was the big winner from the unseasonable rains.
"The rains came during the pollination and early grain filling stages for a lot of our corn crop, which is the most important time for corn to get water," Larson said. "Not only is corn water use at its highest point at this time, but grain production is also most sensitive to stress. Recent rainfall should significantly improve the outlook for this crop."
Larson said he is optimistic this year's crop will avoid problems that it encountered last year from aflatoxin, a fungal by-product that may occur during hot, dry conditions. Aflatoxin, which was the worst in 1998 since 1977, can result in significantly lower prices or unmarketable corn.
"This year's crop progress has been much more like 1997 when we set a new state record average yield of 107 bushels per acre," Larson said. "Mississippi averaged 90 bushels per acre last year as growers battled heat stress and corn borers."
Larson said he is hopeful the crop will continue to avoid significant pest problems. Growers have seen fewer corn borers than last year and their crops have not experienced any significant disease problems thus far.
Houston Therrell, Rankin County Extension agriculture agent, said crops and pastures were starting to stress before the late June rains began.
"The corn was looking pathetic until the rains arrived," Therrell said. "It was probably too late for some of the corn crop."