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August Dreams Turn Into October Horror
STARKVILLE -- Cotton, rice and soybean growers have seen their August dreams turn into October nightmares as yield estimates have plunged in the wake of insects, heat and drought.
"In total economic impact, the state will not see about $900 million that cotton, rice and soybeans had the potential of making when the crops were evaluated in July," said DeWitt Caillavet, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
Caillavet said most farmers will experience an average to slightly below average year in spite of the significant loss of potential dollars. While different farmers face crop disasters every year, the number of farmers devastated in 1995 will be higher than in recent years.
Since the first crop estimate released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in August, the soybean harvest prediction has dropped 11.4 million bushels in Mississippi.
The Oct. 1 crop production report forecasted a 47.5 million bushel soybean harvest.
The yield average has dropped from 31 bushels per acre in August to 25 bushels in October, which is near the five-year average of almost 27 bushels.
Dr. Bob Williams, extension agricultural economist at MSU, said the loss to soybean farmers is about $73 million. The loss to farmers could multiply out to a total economic impact of near $190 million in lost revenue for the state.
Caillavet said rice estimates for Mississippi have dropped 1.2 million hundredweight from August for a new estimate of 16.2 million hundredweight to be harvested in 1995. The new figure reflects a loss of about 400 pounds per acre.
"The rice reduction equals a potential of about $11.4 million in crop value or a total economic impact of about $33 million for the state," Caillavet said. "The 5,500-pound yield per acre will be close to the 10-year average."
Mississippi's cotton, hit hard by the heat and the tobacco budworm, faces an estimated 660,000-bale loss from August to October. The reduction of about 217 pounds of lint per acre means a loss of 250 million potential dollars.
If growers harvest 602 pounds of lint per acre, 1995 will be the third smallest cotton yield in 10 years.
"These three crops make up about 20 percent of a $17 billion industry," Caillavet said. "The success of 1995's agricultural industry will depend largely on how well some of the other commodities, such as poultry and forestry, finish the year."
Mississippi farmers grow 1.9 million acres of soybeans, 1.46 million acres of cotton and 295,000 acres of rice.