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Corn recovers from June rain
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn crop should post yields at or near last year's state record of 135 bushels per acre despite problems caused by June rains.
Early season estimates this year predicted Mississippi growers would plant 450,000 acres of corn, down 18 percent from 2003. But Mississippi State University Extension Service grain crops agronomist Erick Larson said a good planting season and higher prices caused the actual acreage to increase to 470,000.
The overabundance of rainfall in June will limit corn production levels somewhat in most areas. Larson said June rains caused soils to be saturated for extended periods, which stunted corn growth, and contributed to nitrogen loss and disease development.
"The June rains did reduce yields for some growers who produce irrigated corn, but non-irrigated yields overall have been very good because the rainfall prevented any drought stress from occurring," Larson said. "The rainfall in June also may have reduced corn borer populations slightly."
Wet conditions promoted the development of Northern corn leaf blight, especially in fields that have certain susceptible hybrids and that were previously planted in corn. This disease has reduced yields in some severely infected fields by as much as 30 percent.
Even so, the statewide yield average should meet or exceed last year's state record yield, Larson said. He estimated the corn crop is more than 60 percent harvested, with most of the unharvested corn located in the northern and northeastern parts of the state.
Dennis Reginelli, Extension area agronomic crops agent, said growers in the Noxubee County area are benefitting from early planting, ideal weather and smart management.
Most growers in this area grew corn on raised beds, which increased drainage during the heavy June rains. Reginelli said another factor that contributed to his area's excellent crop was the timely use of burndown herbicides.
"Growers did a good job of putting out burndown herbicides to kill what was there on the fields, which allowed them to plant early in a seed bed that was weed-free and warm," he said.
The early start on planting gave corn sufficient time to develop strong root systems before the June rains came. Reginelli said he expects harvest in his area to be completed by the second week in September, with yields around 165 bushels per acre exceeding that county's previous record of 137 bushels per acre.
Sunny, low-humidity conditions would be ideal for the rest of the harvest season. Larson said growers would like to avoid any severe thunderstorms with high winds.
"High wind is the biggest threat to unharvested corn because winds could knock the plants down and cause them to lodge. This makes it very difficult to pick up with a combine," Larson said.
Jerry Singleton, Extension area agronomic crops agent based in Leflore County, said winds reached as high as 45 miles per hour and caused some corn lodging in late August. Still, Singleton said yields in the range of 140 to 175 bushels per acre are common this year in his area.
"These yields will not allow us to break the county record high yield average set last year of 161 bushels per acre," Singleton said. "The weather problems hurt us too much."