Crop Report from 2018
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi growers will produce about 20 percent more rice this year, mostly thanks to additional acres planted over 2017’s total.
Larry Falconer, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said early forecasts predict national yields near last year’s 7,400 pounds per acre.
“National acreage is up about 20 percent. In Mississippi, the increase is slightly more at 23 percent,” Falconer said. “It helped that, at planting time, prices were slightly better than the previous year.”
Forage growers in Mississippi are trying to keep insects from making meals out of their hayfields and compromising their stockpiles of winter feed.
Housing start fluctuations and an abundance of timber are limiting the ceiling on stumpage prices in Mississippi now, but expect the market to improve when sawmills begin stocking up for winter.
Tropical Storm Gordon interrupted harvest across Mississippi, but the storm left most of its wind along the coast and does not seem to have damaged the state’s corn crop.
What is sometimes called the green industry includes landscape services and greenhouse and nursery production, a wide-ranging, growing agricultural sector worth more than $1 billion to the state.
Mississippi State University experts see a positive outlook for the state’s beef cattle industry, with prices at profitable levels and herd numbers up.
Grain sorghum has never been a major agricultural commodity in Mississippi, but it has seen better days: For two years in a row, acreage of the crop has been less than one-tenth of its annual average.
Most of Mississippi’s corn and rice crops had been harvested when prolonged, late-September rains soaked much of the state, but the wet weather could not have come at a worse time for soybeans and cotton.
Mississippi sweet potato fields that missed needed rains in June and July are experiencing favorable harvest conditions in October.
Jamie Earp, president of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, said yields are “fair, at best” at the halfway point in the 2018 harvest season.
Summer weather allowed Mississippi pumpkin growers to have a good harvest, but there still are not enough pumpkins grown in the state to meet fall demand for this colorful crop.
An application of peanut fungicide costs $15-20 per acre, so growers are relieved when they catch a year like 2018 when disease pressure is low.
While statewide peanut acreage is down significantly from last year -- about 25,000 acres compared with 42,000 in 2017 -- the crop benefited from good growing conditions, with average yields of 2 tons per acre.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s pecan yields will be down from last year, but the future looks promising.
Mississippi Pecan Growers Association President Max Draughn of Raymond explained that pecan yields alternate from year to year.
Dry fall weather in recent years delayed wheat planting and reduced acreage significantly, but rains in 2018 are creating a different problem for wheat producers.
Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said wet soils have delayed fall harvest in some areas. Harvest of other crops is the foremost priority before effort and acreage are devoted to wheat.
Mississippians looking for locally grown Christmas trees have several varieties to choose from but should be prepared to shop early for the best selection.
John Kushla, a Mississippi State University Extension Service specialist and research professor who specializes in agroforestry and Christmas trees, said there are several ways to test for freshness when choosing the perfect tree at a tree farm.