MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton offers strong profit potential for growers even though it no longer rules as king among the state's row crops.
In 2008, two crops are posting more acreage in Mississippi than cotton's predicted 420,000 acres: soybeans, with 2.05 million acres, and corn, with 670,000 acres. Exceptionally strong markets have lured growers away from their reliable favorite and over to grain crops.
Cotton offers strong profit potential for growers even though it no longer rules as king among the state’s row crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Few growers remain in the strawberry business in Mississippi, but consumers still like to buy local produce because of its fresh taste.
“It tastes like a strawberry,” said Allen Eubanks, who with his wife, Janice, owns Eubanks Produce in Greene County. “All our strawberries are handpicked, and they are packed, cooled and shipped out the same night. From the time we pick to the time they are in stores is about two days maximum.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Freezing temperatures, slugs and crawfish sound more like biblical plagues than problems for Mississippi's early corn. Nevertheless, those are among the challenges growers are reporting to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Erick Larson, Extension small grains specialist, said although a mid-April frost likely will cause little damage across much of the state, many other problems are being reported.
VICKSBURG -- Gambling on the river takes on a different meaning every spring for a handful of farmers.
Warren County Extension director John Coccaro said hundreds of acres, some of the county's best cropland, are 10-12 feet under water because of heavy rains well north of Mississippi. Most of the fields were planted in winter wheat last fall when the state was in a seemingly endless drought. Still, the fields have a history of flooding, which makes them too risky for insurance coverage.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's soybean growers are not alone in their enthusiasm for planting a large crop this year, and the market knows it.
Soybean growers are expected to plant more than 2 million acres in soybeans, the largest state soybean crop since 1998. The national crop, once expected to be near 71 million acres, is now forecast closer to 75 million acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi winter wheat growers should be feeling pretty smart about their planting decisions last fall.
Market prices near $6 per bushel encouraged growers to increase acreage from 370,000 in 2006-2007 to a record 400,000 for this year. Late March prices are near $8 per bushel, but they have been as high as $12.50 per bushel since planting time.
Steve Martin, agricultural economist at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said several factors are working in favor of strong wheat prices.