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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi peanut growers will finish planting on time and will fare better than last year as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
Peanut planting began the first week of May and is slated to wrap up by June 1.
“Planting is going well so far thanks to the moist soil,” said Mike Steede, Mississippi State University Extension Service director in George County. “We need the moisture for the seeds to germinate. The rain we got in the beginning of the month has created some optimal conditions for now.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s poultry industry is cautiously optimistic that the economic doldrums of the last two years -- brought on by the high costs of energy, feed and debt -- may finally be over.
Insider talk of expansion, new export markets and domestic consumption of eggs and breast meat may be indicators the upswing has begun.
STONEVILLE – Mississippi’s 2010 rice crop is ahead of schedule and looking good, even after strong storms swept through the state in April.
Nathan Buehring, rice specialist at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center, said growers had about 75 percent of the crop planted by the end of April. In the last two years, the majority of the planting took place well into May.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Having about half of the Mississippi soybean crop planted by late April is allowing producers to breathe a little easier when they look back on the disastrous year they had in 2009.
Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, urged producers not to make decisions for this year based on the anomalies of last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A cold winter may have delayed strawberry harvesting, but it did not affect the quality or taste of berries.
Mississippi strawberry harvest usually begins in mid-March, but this year, cold weather pushed harvest back to the second week in April.
“Temperatures were about 10 degrees lower than normal, which pushed planting back a week and in turn, delayed harvesting by a few weeks,” said Wayne Porter, Mississippi State University Extension Service agent in Lauderdale County.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton will not be returning to the throne in Mississippi, but growers are slightly more enthusiastic about this former king than they have been in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual prospective plantings report March 31, and Mississippi producers are predicted to plant 340,000 acres of cotton. That is an increase of 11 percent from 2009 but is a far cry from the 1.2 million acres planted in 2005 and 2006.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Christmas tree growers will probably see their sales increase again this year as more people stay home to celebrate the holidays.
Current economic problems have forced many people to tighten their budgets, resulting in less travel. Families who stay home still want a festive celebration, and natural Christmas trees offer a traditional touch.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Pecans are one Mississippi crop not taking a beating from excessive fall rains, but until the pecans are out of the orchard, the crop is not out of the woods.
Pecan growers are trying to harvest a better-than-average crop and take advantage of good early-season prices. Experts anticipate a more than 2-million-pound pecan harvest in the state. The national crop is expected to be about 300 million pounds, up 100 million pounds from last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Near-constant rains during harvest-time cost Mississippi farmers an estimated $371 million in losses, and producers with crop insurance may be the only ones able to salvage much more from the fields this year.