POPLARVILLE, Miss. -- The first half of June is usually a busy time for blueberry growers in Mississippi, and this year is no different, as recent dry conditions have expedited the crop’s harvest.
A few scattered small-market “U-Picks” can be found in north and central portions of the state, but most of the commercial activity is happening south of Interstate 20, where rain has been in short supply lately. Wayne County boasts the highest blueberry production in the state.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- An abundance of cool-season grasses and legumes means plenty of forage for Mississippi dairy cows, but increased nationwide milk production is driving down profits for the state’s producers.
Producers are receiving $12.75 per hundredweight, or about $1.10 per gallon of milk. A year ago, they were being paid just under $20 per hundredweight.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the sharp decrease is driven by supply.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Spring rains created their typical obstacle course for Mississippi soybean growers trying to get fields planted as soon as possible.
“Growers are covering a lot of ground this week (May 8-13) trying to plant before the next rain,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Frequent rains have made the planting season a challenge. Growers are planting all they can between these rains. Even with these challenges, we are only slightly behind where we were last year in terms of planting progress.”
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Record-breaking rain and cloudy skies this spring increased disease problems in most of Mississippi’s strawberry crop and decreased the sweetness of the popular berries.
“It’s been one of the wettest Marches in years statewide, and the wettest March in history for Jackson,” said Bill Evans, a horticulture researcher with Mississippi State University. “When strawberry plants get wet and stay wet, they get diseased.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Frequent spring rains and standing water have kept farmers out of their fields, reducing expectations for the state’s corn crop.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers are struggling to plant the amount of corn they intended. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted Mississippi’s corn acreage would be 800,000, up 57 percent from last year’s 510,000 acres.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter conditions did not significantly affect wheat development in Mississippi, but acreage of the state’s only cold-season row crop is expected to be much lower than normal due to poor planting conditions last fall.
Erick Larson, corn and wheat specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said 90,000 acres of wheat were planted last fall. The normal acreage is usually around 200,000 acres. Producers planted 230,000 acres in 2014 and 150,000 acres in 2013.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Crop decisions made in January based on markets and profit potential may be cloudy memories for growers waiting on fields to dry out enough to allow spring plantings.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers have purchased seed and locked in their planting intentions, unless rains prevent timely plantings. Few changes will be based on the market’s response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings Report released March 31.
SAUCIER, Miss. -- Christmas tree growers in Mississippi expect a 7 percent increase in sales this year, but unfavorable spring and fall weather may hurt future supplies.
Stephen Dicke, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers successfully controlled insect and disease problems this year. However, a wet spring followed by a dry summer and early fall caused some growers to lose up to half of their 1-year-old trees.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi farmers are expected to plant as much as 200,000 acres of wheat this year, but very little had been planted by the end of October because of exceptionally dry weather since August.
Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said several factors limited wheat acreage last year, but wheat planting intentions are fairly strong this year if weather allows planting to proceed soon.
VARDAMAN, Miss. -- Untimely dry conditions will likely hurt this year’s sweet potato crop in Mississippi, but increasing demand is keeping prices high enough for growers to remain optimistic.
Stephen Meyers, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said a wet spring delayed planting for one to two weeks. Dry fall conditions limited growing progress and will keep yields from reaching full potential.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- If inquiries about new or expanded businesses are the heartbeat of Mississippi horticulture, then agricultural economist Alba Collart knows 2015 is a healthy year for the industry.
Collart, assistant professor of agricultural economics with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said horticultural crops are important to Mississippi’s agricultural economy. These specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and products grown for environmental horticulture, also known as the green industry.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Erratic yields in Mississippi’s early-planted soybean crop reflect the extremes of temperature and rainfall farmers faced during the spring and summer of 2015.
“This season was one of extremes,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “We went from cool, wet conditions in early spring to hot and dry during a critical point of the season, and that has taken a toll on yield for some of our acres.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- After causing significant challenges in 2014, sugarcane aphids did not catch Mississippi’s grain sorghum growers by surprise this year.
“We are not sure if sugarcane aphids were not as bad as last year or if we just did a better job using insecticidal seed treatments,” said Angus Catchot, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “One big difference was that we were more educated in our control efforts. No one was caught by surprise, and everyone had budgeted for control.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Low feed costs and steady demand are keeping the playing field level for Mississippi swine producers, but the bottom line at year’s end will be down from 2014 totals.
Mississippi’s value of production for hogs was $153 million last year. No estimates are available for 2015, but hog prices have been much lower than they were in 2014, while hog numbers were higher at the first of the year.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi farmers planted more peanuts in response to economic factors that made the crop an attractive choice this year, but a lack of rain now has them expecting average yields.
Mississippi has 42,000 acres of peanuts this year, up 45 percent from what was planted in 2014. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 84 percent of the crop is in fair to good condition.