MISSISSIPPI STATE -- This year's planting intentions report yielded few surprises as producers based many acreage decisions on market prices.
Economists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced their 1996 crop predictions March 29. The biggest change for Mississippi is corn acreage, rising from 300,000 acres in '95 to 550,000 acres for 1996 -- an 83 percent increase.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians have more than a billion reasons for celebrating Arbor Day on Feb. 9. Forestry is more than an asset to the state's environment; it's an asset to Mississippi's economy.
"Timber has been an important asset to Mississippi's economy, but in the last two years our forests generated more than a billion dollars in harvest value," said Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University.
Mississippians begin celebrating tree planting week on Arbor Day, Feb. 9.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Traditionally when people think of Valentine's Day they think of hearts and flowers or chocolate candy. This year, try surprising your loved one with a special valentine gift made with love.
JACKSON -- Cotton growers opposed to the boll weevil eradication program believe a ruling by the Mississippi Attorney General's Office is good news, but supporters of the program believe it is good news for the boll weevils.
In a ruling released Jan. 25, prior to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the attorney general's opinion was that growers could keep the program with a two-thirds majority voting in favor of continuing the program.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- 1995 has proved to be a year of highs and lows for Mississippi agriculture as some crops reached record values while others experienced disastrous yields.
Forestry, poultry/eggs, catfish and horticulture crops saw increases in value, but the state's overall estimated value of farm production dropped $56 million this year. Agricultural economists at Mississippi State University predict the state's estimated value of farm production will reach $4.37 billion for 1995.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- In a continuing neck-and-neck battle for the No. 1 spot in Mississippi agriculture, forestry is expected to maintain its lead ahead of poultry and eggs with each passing the billion dollar mark again in 1995.
Posting an estimated harvest value of $1.1 billion, forestry gained about $36 million ahead of 1994 figures.
Poultry and eggs are estimated at almost $1.09 billion in 1995, an increase of $50 million.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- High prices to growers and large volumes of fish processed through October combined to make 1995 a winning year for Mississippi's catfish industry.
The 1995 estimated value of farm production for Mississippi catfish is $301 million, up $21 million from last year. Catfish rose a notch in the state rankings this year, pushing ahead of soybeans, which dropped $61 million.
Catfish now ranks fourth on the state's top commodities list behind forestry, poultry and cotton, respectively.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Tobacco budworms didn't just take a bite out of cotton bolls, they joined the drought-like conditions to take a bite out of cotton growers' bank accounts.
"Growers not only harvested less cotton in 1995, but it was also one of the state's most expensive cotton crops ever," said Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University. "These two factors -- a smaller crop and higher costs -- are pushing a significant number of growers to the brink of financial disaster."
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi Christmas tree growers welcome this year's crop with anticipation for a happy holiday season.
"Overall the crop looks great in spite of the drought," said Dr. Steve Dicke, extension forestry specialist in Raymond. "A few growers experienced some disease problems, but the outcome of the crop in general is outstanding."
Last year 220,000 Mississippi-grown trees were sold for about $5.2 million.
"Growers expect sales to be as good or better than last year," Dicke said.
STARKVILLE -- Still reeling from the February 1994 ice storm, Mississippi's pecans struggled through drought conditions this summer and may end up yielding only about 40 percent of the state's crop potential.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension horticulture specialist at Mississippi State University, said alternate bearing years are common in pecan production. Trees may yield 25 percent of their crop one year, 75 percent the next, then back down the next.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians looking for state-grown pumpkins for Halloween jack o'lanterns or Thanksgiving pies will find shorter supplies and higher prices this year.
Consumers can expect pumpkins to wear a price tag ranging from 50 cents to $1 higher than last year. Due to short supplies of state-grown pumpkins, many of the pumpkins available locally have been shipped into Mississippi from southern Canada and the high plains of Texas.
STARKVILLE -- Cotton, rice and soybean growers have seen their August dreams turn into October nightmares as yield estimates have plunged in the wake of insects, heat and drought.
"In total economic impact, the state will not see about $900 million that cotton, rice and soybeans had the potential of making when the crops were evaluated in July," said DeWitt Caillavet, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
STARKVILLE -- Late season cotton yield estimates have plummeted as drought and insect damage effects become apparent.
From the original yield estimate on Aug. 1 to the recently released Oct. 1 figures, Mississippi's harvest estimate has dropped 660,000 bales -- for a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's economy.
STARKVILLE -- Hurricane Opal's unwelcome rains showed Mississippi's crops more mercy than Alabama's, but a delay in harvest is anything but good news for farmers struggling to put 1995 behind them.
The late-season hurricane dropped relatively small amounts of rain on the Mississippi Delta and from 2 to 3 inches on the eastern side of the state. Unfortunately, any rain at this point in the season provides only negative effects on the harvest-ready crops.
STARKVILLE -- With harvest in full swing, Mississippi's peanut crop is faring well despite this year's dry growing season. Although growers will not enjoy 1994's high peanut yields and quality, both disease and insect pressure have been light this year.
"This has been an off year for a lot of crops, but peanut yields are fairly good," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension agronomist at Mississippi State University. "This is particularly true in the north Delta, considering how long it has been dry."
STARKVILLE -- Growers are hoping for more rainfall to aid harvest of Mississippi's 6,000 acres of sweetpotatoes.
Acreage is up about 20 percent for 1995, due to good prices and expanding markets for Mississippi's sweetpotatoes.
"Our sweetpotatoes are high quality, and are competing well in the marketplace," said Benny Graves, plant pathologist with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry in Starkville.