STONEVILLE – Early planting and higher-than-average temperatures have led to Mississippi’s earliest rice crop harvest to date.
Optimal planting for rice is before May 1, and favorable conditions allowed most of the state’s crop to make it in by that date. Then, hot summer temperatures accelerated the crop’s maturation process, allowing more than half of Mississippi’s rice to be harvested by early September.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish farmers have until Sept. 23 to enroll in a recently approved governmental program to earn educational benefits and cash incentives.
Catfish farmers have struggled as the cost of production, the national economy and competition from foreign products have each taken a toll, pushing Mississippi acreage to its lowest levels in 30 years. In an effort to help farmers continue producing quality fish and remain competitive in the world market, the U.S. Department of Agriculture certified a Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers program on June 25.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – The lingering recession continues to impact Mississippi’s turfgrass industry with total sod acreage down as a portion has been switched to row crop production until the economy improves.
Wayne Wells, Mississippi State University Extension Service turf specialist, said the state has about 4,500 acres of turf and about 50 sod producers. The largest producers each have about 300 to 500 acres of turf production.
BILOXI – Shrimp landings may be way below average this season, but the quality of Gulf shrimp is still good.
Shrimping began on time when state waters opened on June 3. Because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, partial closures were implemented beginning on June 8. By July 1, state waters had completely closed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Record-breaking heat is forcing Mississippi producers to manage crops more carefully than normal to bring what looks like successful yields to harvest.
Temperatures in the Delta, which is home to the majority of the state’s row crops, have set as many as five record highs during the first week of August.
Nancy Lopez, a physical scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Stoneville, said some daily records from Greenville to Vicksburg were broken consecutively in August. July also was unusually hot across most of the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi forage producers are experiencing a major invasion of fall armyworms for the second consecutive year in pastures and hay fields across the state.
Blake Layton, a Mississippi State University Extension Service entomologist, said fall armyworm populations were unusually heavy last year with treatable populations reaching north Mississippi relatively early in the year and eventually extending into Tennessee. In 2010, the southern part of Mississippi needed treatments starting in early June.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Delayed planting and high summer heat have not kept Mississippi’s soybean crop from looking good as of mid-July, though fields ranged from just planted to nearly ready to harvest.
Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the crop was planted a little later than usual statewide, but many acres in northeast Mississippi were not planted until almost July.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Good growing conditions are contributing to a bumper crop of tasty watermelons for Mississippians.
David Nagel, a Mississippi State University Extension Service horticulturist, said rains and cool temperatures delayed plantings but warm temperatures later contributed to rapid development. Harvests began in mid-June and peak each year around the Fourth of July.
“We’ve had plenty of warm temperatures and sunshine to produce large and sweet watermelons this year,” Nagel said. “The more sunny days we have, the sweeter the melons.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Many Mississippi dairy farmers are wary about 2010 after the past 18 months proved to be one of the most financially challenging periods ever for the industry.
“2009 is a year most Mississippi dairy farmers would like to forget because of the huge financial hit they suffered as the price they were paid for milk plummeted about 40 percent,” said dairy specialist Lamar Adams of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Farmers lost about $1,000 per cow last year.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s young cotton crop has already faced a list of challenges including flooding, late planting, insects and now drought.
“It’s been a challenge from the word go,” said Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “We went from an almost perfect planting season last year to one that seems to have continually fought us this year.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After three years of depressed timber markets, prices are increasing because of strong demand for forest products and low inventories of logs following the year’s wettest months.
David Jones, assistant forest products professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the first half of 2010 showed a marked increase in demand for a number of forest products and price increases in most timber product categories.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring rains have been kind to most Mississippi farmers, and conditions are offering cotton one of its best starts in recent years.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most of the state’s crop has been slightly ahead of schedule.
“The weather has not caused a significant amount of replanting, but there are always exceptions, and if you are one of those farmers, it is significant,” Dodds said. “We also have had some fields needing replanting because of herbicide damage.”
STONEVILLE -- The state’s catfish industry -- battling high feed costs, low prices and foreign competition -- is seeing many acres come out of production as producers fight to remain profitable.
In 2009, 15,000 acres of ponds went out of catfish production, and more are expected to leave production this year. Mississippi continues to lead the nation in catfish production and acreage, but the state’s current 65,000 acres is 43 percent short of its peak of 113,000 acres in 2002.