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Crops could use a little sunshine
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s row crops have had enough rain, and most fields just need sunshine.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said corn is mature and will gain no benefit from additional moisture. In the first couple of weeks of August, skies were overcast or rain was falling across most of the state.
“Rains are delaying corn harvest and hindering natural grain dry-down in the field. We have a lot of corn that is mature and ready for harvest. Growers will probably resume harvest as soon as sunshine returns, which will probably have some negative implications on soil conditions,” Larson said. “Fields will likely still be pretty wet and muddy when the combines and grain carts return to the fields. We hate to rut up and compact the soil at any time of year, but we will likely see some this fall.”
Larson said corn has generally tolerated persistent rains fairly well in the past, but continued stormy weather could definitely create issues. Soybeans may rot, and rice, cotton and sorghum may sprout.
John Orlowski, assistant Extension/research professor at MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center, said the excessive late-season rains have had a negative impact on the Delta soybean crop.
“The rain has delayed activity in fields that could have potentially been harvested, and it has delayed harvest aid applications on many early-planted fields,” he said. “The rainfall has caused soybean seeds still on the plant to begin sprouting in the pods.”
Orlowski said soybeans that have dried down are not the only beans that are sprouting.
“We have seen green soybeans in green pods sprouting,” he said. “Some folks say that gray-podded soybeans will sprout less than red beans, but, from what I have seen, there is sprouting in varieties regardless of pod color.”
Orlowski said growers now must wait.
“Last year, there was a significant amount of preharvest sprouting, and a lot of growers still produced very good yields,” he said. “They need to be very careful timing harvest aid applications. Beans that have been sprayed are likely to suffer worse damage than those with green pods and leaves still on them.”
Additionally, soybean growers should not neglect scouting for insect pests.
“Be especially careful of the redbanded stinkbugs that require treatment well past the point of treatment for other types of stinkbugs,” he said. “Even though the fields are wet, be sure to continue scouting.”
Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds said there is not a lot of good cotton news, and the crop would do fine without another drop of rain.
“The problem is the amount of rain and length of time we’ve had stormy conditions. Overcast skies are causing some plants to shed fruit,” Dodds said. “What seems to be shedding are second and third positions, which are less valuable than the first positions. If the rain continues for a while, the damage will be greater, especially if bolls start to rot or hard-lock.”
Extension rice specialist Bobby Golden said the rains could cause sterility on some rice at flowering stage by blowing the pollen away.
“We really need sunshine to get back into the fields, but there is still a chance of rain in the near future,” Golden said. “If the rainy weather continues, we’ll have more problems with rice sprouts.”