Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on June 30, 2000. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information.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.
State Crops Took A Beating In 1999
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers reeling from last year's low prices and often-poor yields are pinning their hopes on many crops not projected to perform much better in 2000.
With figures being finalized for 1999, agricultural economists show that most of the state's top crops declined in value last year. The traditional high dollar crops were the worst hit.
John Lee, head of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, said 1999 was a tough year for farmers as typically average yields were sold for very low prices.
"Season average prices for most of Mississippi's major crops turned out to be even lower in 1999 than they had been the year before," Lee said. "I think the market has bottomed out and, for a few commodities, the expectations are for somewhat stronger prices in 2000."
Cotton, the state's biggest row crop, dropped 9 percent of its value in 1999. While yield was down slightly, a large acreage increase meant the state produced about 300,000 more bales than 1998. Prices, however, hit a record low of 47 cents a pound.
"Prospects for 2000 currently depend on the weather, but we expect another large crop with modest improvement in prices," Lee said.
Soybeans dropped 100,000 acres, had slightly lower yields and averaged $5.10 a bushel, down from a decade high $7.34 in 1996. This left 1999 soybeans with a 16 percent value decline.
"With plantings expected to decline another 200,000 acres this year, we'd have to have a sharp increase in yields to get the production we had last year," Lee said. "Prices for soybeans are currently forecast at $4.50 because of huge stocks on the market."
Rice acreage and production were up, but value dropped 31 percent as prices fell from $8.99 a hundredweight to $5.25. With prices forecast to drop further, acreage was expected to decrease sharply in 2000, Lee said.
Corn averaged $2 a bushel, barely below 1998's price, but down from the $3.30 a bushel it brought in 1996. Farmers produced a record 117 bushels an acre average on almost 200,000 fewer acres last year. Despite this yield, the fewer acres and low prices added up to a 17 percent decline in value for corn in 1999.
The state's No. 1 crop poultry and No. 2 crop forestry both saw value decreases.
"The main problem with poultry was a substantial drop in price," Lee said. "We had a slight increase in production, but the price decrease brought the value down 6 percent."
Forestry's 3 percent decline was caused by a sharp drop in pulpwood prices that caused timber owners to not cut as much. Sawtimber prices are expected to remain strong through 2000.
Some of the good news for the year came from the cattle, calf and hog markets. Cattle and calves' value rose 14 percent in 1999 and hogs increased 2 percent in value.
"A resurgence in pork and beef prices led to an increase in value of production for beef cattle and calves, and hogs," Lee said.
Grain sorghum had a 56 percent acreage increase, the highest yields in more than a decade and stable prices. This gave sorghum a 107 percent increase in value, and acreage is predicted to double again in 2000. Sweet potatoes were another bright spot, rising 26 percent in value mainly on a sharp price increase, although yield and acreage were both up, too.