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Wheat Farmers Will Enjoy Higher Prices
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi wheat growers will be among an elite group of farmers who will be able to enjoy record high prices. While the yield prospects are dim for the nation's leading wheat producing states, Mississippi's crop looks promising.
Wheat futures have reached the historic $7 per bushel level -- more than 60 percent higher than year-ago prices. Stocks are among the lowest ever and demand continues to be strong.
Kansas, the nation's leading wheat-producing state, has fallen victim to a drought -- further pushing prices higher with the prospect of a smaller 1996 national crop.
Mississippi farmers picked a good year to increase wheat acreage 28 percent. The state has about 230,000 acres of wheat. The Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service recently reported 75 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition.
Charlie Estess, Coahoma County agricultural agent, said he expects good yields for 1996. Currently, the crop is disease free with the heading stage well underway.
"Disease problems usually are more likely to occur when plants are more succulent and are growing faster. Growers are watching closely for worm problems," Estess said. "Warm days and cool nights are the best conditions this crop could have in thenext few weeks."
Estess said last year's wheat yield was 35 bushels per acre. "Coahoma County should have some pretty good yields -- close to 40 bushels per acre -- because diseases haven't been an issue," Estess said.
"Some fields were a challenge to get the fertility levels where they should be," Estess said. "The problem could have been freeze damage to roots that hurt the plants' ability to pick up the fertilizer."
Estess said the weakest plants died during the freeze, but the strongest plants endured with some damage below the soil surface.
In Humphreys County, wheat also is looking good with about 80 percent of the crop heading.
"Some of the older wheat suffered freeze damage, but most of the crop endured and looks very healthy," Humphreys County agent Eddie Harris said. "We may see close to 50 bushels per acre."